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944.04 63-17100 

Burke 

Reflections on the French 

Revolution 




KANSAS CITY. MO PUBLIC LIBRARY 




D DDDi onaaas o 



Everyman, I will go with thee, and be thy guide, 
In thy most need to go by thy side. 



EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY 
No. 460 



ESSAYS & BELLES-LETTRES 



REFLECTIONS ON THE FRENCH 
REVOLUTION & OTHER ESSAYS 
BY EDMUND BURKE INTRODUC- 
TION BY A. J. GRIEVE, M.A. 



EDMUND BURKE, born at Dublin in 1729. 
Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and later 
came to London to study law* Held post as 
secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham in 
1765- and that year entered parliament. In 
1774 formed alliance with Charles James 
Fox and was partly responsible for Fox's 
India Bill. Retired in 1795" an( ^ died in 1797. 



REFLECTIONS ON 
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 




EDMUND BURKE 



LONDON: J. M. DENT & SONS LTD. 
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO. INC. 



All rights reserved 
Made in Great Britain 

by 
The Temple Press Letchworth 

for 

J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd. 
Aldine House Bedford St. London 
Krst published in this edition 1910 
Last reprinted 



Y 248/17 m 



INTRODUCTION 

ALTHOUGH there have been critics who place Edmund Burke 
at the summit of English prose-writers, it is hardly to be gain- 
said that he belongs more to the history of politics and to the 
history of thought, than to that of pure literature. Apart from 
his personal characteristics, the essential magnanimity of Ms 
nature, his kindly and sympathetic disposition towards strug- 
gling aspirants like Crabbe, and his utter freedom from self- 
seeking in an age of almost universal corruption, which make 
Mm a conspicuous and memorable figure in the history of 
eighteenth-century politics, in which he was so thoroughly 
engrossed, his commanding eminence is due to the fact that he 
was the first to rebut the conception made dominant by Locke, 
that every man's thought was a sufficient authority for himself, 
that the individual reason is a competent and sufficient guide 
to truth. Burke argued on the contrary that society is an 
organic whole in which each mind is a particular growth, con- 
ditioned by the rest, and incapable of fully living if it detaches 
Itself from the rest. Hence the great value which he set upon 
custom and traditional opinion, the consensus of thought as 
opposed to individual judgment. All through his career he 
attacked unsparingly the assertion of individual, or, as he called 
it, critical opinion, as against the permanent convictions of 
society. 

This conception is connected with a widespread movement in 
European thought and literature during the early nineteenth 
century, a movement partly reactionary as tending to revive 
mediasval forms of belief and views of society simply because in 
the Middle Ages the authority of custom and tradition had been 
paramount. We see another phase of the movement in the 
Catholic reaction on the Continent at the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century, and in the "Oxford Movement" in England a 
generation later. Similarly in philosophy comes the change 
from Locke's idea of the single mind to that of mankind as the 
starling point, and so in theology the change from Transcen- 
dence or Deism (God conceived as existing apart from and 
independent of the world) to Immanence (God conceived as a 

vii 



viii INTRODUCTION 

world soul), which, when unqualified, becomes Pantheism. 
This change is illustrated by Wordsworth. And not only in 
thought, but in style does Burke serve as a link between the 
two centuries: he unites the powerful understanding, the clear 
and luminous construction, the sanity of judgment of the 
earlier age, with the passionate imagination, the fervid elo- 
quence and the glowing colour which we associate with the 
romantic movement of the early nineteenth century. 

With this clue in our hands we may more easily trace the 
story of Brake's writings, and especially come to some under- 
standing of the apparent inconsistency between his attitude to 
the American and the French Revolutions. One may start, 
indeed, with the Vindication of Natural Society (published, like 
the Essay on the Sublime and the Beautiful, in 1751). This 
book professed to be a t( letter to a lord, by a late noble writer/' 
viz. Bolingbroke, and Bolingbroke's style is so deftly imitated 
that many accepted the book as from his hand. \ In truth it was 
a marvellous piece of satire, which took its rise from the current 
discussions on "natural" and "revealed" religion. Burke's 
endeavour was to show that the same arguments which Boling- 
broke had used in favour of natural religion could be used with 
equal success in favour of natural as against "artificial" 
society. For one absurdity in religion he undertook to produce 
a hundred in political law and institution. \ His book is a great 
plea for the recognition of collective as well as individual reason, 
and he asserts that all that is regarded as excellent and vener- 
able, nay society itself, would tumble to ruin, if the practice of 
all moral duties and the constitution of the social order, rested 
upon their being submitted to the unrestrained criticism of 
every individual. Thus even at thisjta^y^date we may trace 
Burke's love of order, the^samejjrdent zeal .for c(mstitutional 




^ eL speeches 

writings of his mature manhood. 

We find^EBe same^EBriacfTi^spite of the tangles of verbosity, 
detail, and ephemeral interests, running through the Observa- 
tions on the Present State of the Nation (1769) and the Thoughts 
on the Causes of the Present Discontents (1770). Burke's con- 
tribution to the serious problems raised by the triangular dis- 
agreement between king, advisers, and people, was as full of 
political principles as the contribution made in the Letters of 
Junius was devoid of them. Its main contention is that the 



INTRODUCTION . ix 

study of political conditions with a view to solving the problems 
they involve must be accompanied by a study of social condi- 
tions. He goes behind the political constitution to the state of 
society upon which the validity of the constitution depends, 
examining the elements which constitute national strength and 
the different classes who contribute towards national prosperity, 
and showing the futility of a government which ignores these 
primary conditions and attempts to rule through a parliament 
half of whose members are simply creatures of the court and 
out of all relation with the real constituents of a nation. 
t When the American question came to the front, Burke saw 
clearly that the question of liberty in America was closely con- 
nected with the question of liberty in England, and that the 
resistance of the colonists to the arbitrary proposals of the 
English Government was only another phase of the resistance 
offered by the people of the home country. Burke and those 
who were with rrirrt felt that the New Englanders were fighting 
their battles and that the suppression of liberty there would 
have the same consequences at home. We shall see that it was 
this particular regard for the interests of England that guided 
Burke twenty years later in his views of the French Revolution. 
In his speeches on American Taxation, and on Conciliation with 
America, and in his Letter to the Citizens of Bristol (1774-5) he 
opposes the arbitrary contention of the English Government 
that the king had sovereign right over the colonies and might 
therefore do as he pleased with them. To this claim Burke 
did not reply as Rousseau might have done, that if the sovereign 
had rights the people also had rights, instead of this he 
rejected decisively the whole conception of rights as a A 
of political^ctipn. A right _is, merely an 
conception which can never be imposed upon society without 
disaster. Political problems must be solved along other lines 
than this, by large and wise considerations of expediency. The 
sovereign may have a "right** to tax the colonists, but it is 
surely inexpedient to assert the right which abstrusely exists. 
Laws must grow out of customs, not glaringly contradict and 
oppose them. 

The American Revolution was succeeded on the stage of Eng- 
lish politics by the problem of the East India Company, and its 
impeachment and trial in the person of Warren Hastings. 
But long before the curtain had rung down upon that episode, 
the outbreak of the French Revolution had taken place. In its 



x INTRODUCTION 

beginnings it was an effort to reform extraordinary abuses, 
social and political, within the limits of the existing monarchy. 
The abolition of the monarchy, when it came, was mainly the 
work of the emigrants who had fled from France and, by 
threatening invasion, drove the Republicans to the final step. 
Sheridan and Fox, like most English folk, recognized this 
moderation of the first stages and welcomed the movement, but 
Burke from the outset took another view. He gave his Reflec- 
tions to the English people as a warning, and brought about a 
complete change of English national sentiment. With fiery 
partisanship he applied the disastrous consequences of the dis- 
orderly method in which the French pursued freedom, to his 
own country, and filled his countrymen with panic. He broke 
off not only all public co-operation, but even personal relations, 
with his old friend and colleague, Fox. Abroad the book had 
a success as great as at home. The Revolutionists themselves 
read it, the French king translated it, Catherine of Russia con- 
gratulated the author; while nearer home the Tories, till now 
Burke's implacable foes, lavished their favours upon their old- 
time opponent, and even George III praised the work and 
recommended everybody to read it. 

By his own party Burke was naturally accused of treason to 
his former position and principles, though even then there were 
a few observers who saw that in reality there was no incon- 
sistency and that Burke was no renegade. Coleridge, for in- 
stance, pointed out that in Burke's attitude to the revolutions 
in America and France the principles were the same, the deduc- 
tions from them the same, but the practical influences opposite 
though equally legitimate. As Lord Morley points out, Burke 
"changed his front, but not his basis," he is from begin- 
ning to end repugnant to the critical spirit, to all inquiry into 
the origin of opinions, In such inquiry he saw an inevitable 
risk of a breach of order, and with all his largeness for liberty, 
i.e. the opportunity of full development of faculty, he would 
never consent to secure it at the cost of order. "Liberty/' said 
Montesquieu, Burke's political father, "does not consist in 
doing what one pleases . . . liberty can only consist in being 
able to do what one ought to do/' J Now in the case of America 
it was plainly the English Government that had attempted a 
breach of order by trying to enforce an abstract right of 
sovereignty. In the case of France, on the other hand, he was 
convinced that it was the people who were responsible for the 



INTRODUCTION xi 

breach, by_the ^olentproceedings jv^c^hadjmtiatsd the 
llevolutiOTu^Ee^eaI~cliaxge SSFwe^cai' bring against Burke 
here is not one of inconsistency, but of inadequate knowledge 
(he partly admits this, see p. 133). He knew far less of the 
social state of France than of the conditions of either France or 
America, and totally ignored the existence in France of the 
oppressive abuses that constituted the case of the French people 
against their government. He forgot his own assertion that 
"revolutions are not created by the people, they spring from 
irresistible need, they are not fomented, but when they come 
they are irresistible." The knowledge that Burke lacked was 
put before the English people in the following year (1791) by 
Arthur Young, whose Travels in France is an intimate picture 
of the feudal exactions that prevailed in France down to the 
Revolution. Though a more momentous contribution to the 
philosophy of the great upheaval, it came too late to influence a 
people inflamed by the denunciatory eloquence of Burke. 

Hartley Coleridge (Essays, i. 134), writing of Shakespeare, 
says, that he is one of those "who build the commonweal, not 
on the shifting shoals of expedience, or the incalculable tides ol 
popular will, but on the sure foundations of the divine purpose, 
demonstrated by the great and glorious ends of rational being; 
who deduce the rights and duties of men, not from the animal 
nature, in which neither right nor duty can inhere, not from a 
state of nature which never existed, nor from an arbitrary con- 
tract which never took place in the memory of men nor angels, 
but from the complex life of the soul and the body, defined by 
reason and conscience, expounded and ratified by revelation." 
The words might have been written of Burke. 

It has often been pointed out that Burke' s literary style was 
conditioned by Ms rhetoric. It began with his selection of 
Bolingbroke as a model and was maintained by his own unceas- 
ing exercise in the oratorical arena. Yet his rhetoric always 
inclined more to the written than the spoken form, and though 
this may not have pleased him it has preserved his work better 
than that of the ordinary orator and debater. Such is the 
judgment of Professor Saintsbury, who goes on to enumerate 
certain qualities of Burke's style and method, and in particular 
what is technically known as Amplification, "the faculty of 
building up an argument or a picture by a succession of com- 
plementary strokes, not added at haphazard, but growing out of 
and on to one another.'* The Reflections perhaps displays a less 



xii INTRODUCTION 

orderly arrangement than some of the earlier works, but for 
compensation there is a greater rush of thought and rhetoric. 
"In his ornaments, whether of idea or of imagery, Burke is 
better worth studying than almost any other English writer. 
In simile and trope generally, he is, though often wonderfully 
brilliant, distinctly uncertain, quite untrustworthy in the 
direction of humour, and in some of his more forcible images 
apt even to be positively disgusting. On the other hand, his 
grandeur seldom falls into the grandiose, and the magical effect 
of more imaginative passages (of which the famous one about 
Marie Antoinette is only the stock example) has never been 
exceeded in political writing. Epigram he can occasionally 
manage with great effect, but it is not by any means so specially 
and definitely Ms weapon as imaginative argument, and the 
marshalling of vast masses of complicated detail into properly 
rhetorical battalions or (to alter the image) mosaic pictures of 
enduring beauty." 

Sir Leslie Stephen found in Burke's style a praiseworthy 
"flexibility'*; but Sir Edmund Gosse compares it to "a robe 
of brocaded damask, splendid, sumptuous, and appropriate 
to noble public occasions, but scarcely flexible." To be a perfect 
prose-writer, a man must play sometimes upon thrilling and 
soul-subduing instruments, but Burke never takes the trumpet 
from his lips. It has been said that he greatly admired 
Dryden's prose and tried to imitate it, but the only striking 
resemblance between the two is the elaborate art with which 
the parts of the sentences are balanced and adjusted. " In the 
class of declamatory writers/' says Sir Edmund, "Burke stands 
easily first; his tracts and orations do not speak reflectively, 
with the still small voice which the cloistered student loves, but 
in resonant accents, so that even in the study their effect is 
completed to the imagination by cries of defiance or rounds of 
applause from an unseen audience." 

To return to the Reflections, in which, if the reader seeks a 
narrative history of the French Revolution, he will seek in 
vain. Its ostensible raison d'etre was an address given by the 
Rev. Dr. Richard Price, a Nonconformist minister of some 
note, to a harmless body called the Revolutionary Society, and 
a sermon by the same gentleman On the Love of our Country. 
Burke takes far more notice of these productions than they 
merit, but they are the grit around which he built up his pearl. 
Price had been lauding the proceedings in France (as far as they 



INTRODUCTION xffi 

had gone in 1789) as a conspicuous vindication of the "rights" 
of the governed. Burke sets out to show that the English 
liberties which Price was so proud of were not first achieved 
at the Revolution of 1688, but were essentially an English in- 
heritance, and, further, that between the orderly procedure of 
England in 1688 and the disorderly action of France a century 
later there was a whole world of difference. He says that Price 
misrepresents English sentiment, and goes on to sketch a true 
picture of the English political system, comparing it at different 
points with the French. He proposes four heads the Church, 
the monarchy, the aristocracy, and the democracy ; the first gets 
most attention, the last, none at all. For when, after an interval 
in which he was otherwise engaged, Burke set to writing the 
second part of his Reflections, he took up at once the policy of 
the Revolutionist party, and after denying that the National 
Assembly had any right at all to legislate, he adversely criticizes 
what they had done in matters legislative, executive, judicial, 
military, and financial. Throughout the whole book it is evident 
that his prime concern is for his own country "Whenever our 
neighbour's house is on fire, it cannot be amiss for the engines 
to play a little on our own." 

The rest of Burke's life is a record of his increasingly pas- 
sionate hostility to the Revolution. His subsequent writings, 
A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly and An Appeal 
from the New to the Old Whigs, and especially the Letters on 
a Regicide Peace, show the old eloquence and imagination, but 
are sadly lacking in the old sagacity, clear judgment, and power 
of marshalling facts. The execution of the French king in 
January 1793, which apparently justified all Burke' s antagon- 
ism to the Revolution, raised him to the height of his influence, 
and was followed by an outburst of national passion. 

About this time (1794) Burke lost his only son Richard, a 
blow that fell heavily upon him. He was roused from his de- 
spondency by an attack made by the Duke of Bedford upon the 
pension drawn by Burke from the Government. In his Letter 
to a Noble Lord his earlier gifts of calm and clear reasoning 
reappear. The letter in this respect stands in marked contrast 
to what we can only describe as the frenzy of the Letters on a 
Regicide Peace, letters whose course was interrupted after 
two of them had appeared, though four were written by the 
author's death on July 9, 1797. 



xiv INTRODUCTION 



LEADING DATES IN BURKE'S LIFE 

1729, Jan. Birth in Dublin. His father was a Protestant 
attorney; his first schoolmaster was Abraham Shackleton. 

1743-8. At Trinity College, Dublin. 

1750. Enters the Middle Temple, London. 

1756. Marriage. First publications. 

1759. Plans the Annual Register. 

1761. Private secretary to Gerard Hamilton, Chief Secre- 
tary for Ireland. 

1765. Private secretary to Lord Rockingham, and M.P. for 
Wendover. 

176970. Writings on home politics. 

1773. Visit to France. 

1774-80. M.P. for Bristol. 

1774 5. Writings and speeches on the American Revolution. 

1781-94. M.P. for Malton. 

1782-3. Paymaster of the Forces. 

1786. Leads the impeachment of Warren Hastings. 

1790 ff. Writings on the French Revolution. 

1797, July 9. Death. 

Burke's character and temper, conversational ability and 
other personal qualities are reflected in BoswelTs Johnson, 
Fanny Burney's Diary, and other memoirs of the period. 
Mr. E. J. Payne, in the Clarendon Press edition of Burke's 
Select Works (Vol. II), has an admirable essay on the Reflections, 
and Lord Morley's monograph in the English Men of Letters 
Series is, of course, known to every reader as the indispensable 
handbook to any adequate study of Burke. 

A Vindication of Natural Society (letter), 1756; A Philosophical Enquiry 
into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, 1756, 2nd 
edition; Discourse concerning Taste, 1757; A Short Account of a Short 
Administration, 1766; Observations on a Short Publication intituled "The 
Present State of the Nation," 1769; Thoughts on the Causes of the Present 
Discontents, 1770; Speech on American Taxation, 1774; Speech on Concilia- 
tion with America, 1775, 1778; Letters to the Sheriffs of Bristol, 1777; Speech 
on Economic Reform, 1780; Letter on the Penal Laws (to Lord Kenmare), 
1782, 1785; editor H. C. Clifford, 1824; On Fox's East India Bill, 1784; On- 
the Debts of the Nabob of Arcot, 1785; Articles of Charge against Warren 
Hastings, 1786; Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790; new edition, 



INTRODUCTION xv 

1793; Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, 1791 ; Letter to the Empress of 
Russia,, 1791 (in Collected Works) ; Letter to Sir Hercules Langrishe, M.P., 
1792 ; Speeches on the Impeachment of Warren Hastings, witli Introduction, 
1792; Observations on the Conduct of the Minority (letter to the Duke of 
Portland), 1793, published 1797 under the title Fifty-four Articles of Im- 
peachment against the Right Hon. C. F. Pox; ThougMs and Details on 
Scarcity, presented to W. Pitt, 1795; A Letter to a Noble Lord, etc., 1796; 
Letters I and II on a Regicide Peace, 1796 (two other letters have been pub- 
lished in Collected Works) ; Hints for an Essay on the Drama (Collected 
Works} ; An Essay towards an Abridgement of the English History (Collected 
Works) . Other Letters, Notes, and fragments axe published in the Collected 
Works. 

The Annual Register was started by Burke in 1759. His contributions 
to it continued for thirty years. 

WORKS: 3 vols., 1792; complete in 8 vols., 1827; i6vols. (Laurence and 
King), first 8 vols., 1803, 1808, with a Life, 1823; edition completed with 
addition of posthumous works, 1827; first 12 vols. of this edition, reissued 
in 2 vols., with Biographical Notice, 1834; Works and Correspondence, 
8 vols., 1852; Bonn's British Classics, with Prior's Life, and two supple- 
mentary vols. of Speeches, 1853; Edition in progress (New Universal 
library), 1905, etc.; with Introduction Judge by Willis (World's Classics), 
1906, etc. 

BOSTON EDITIONS OF WORKS: 7 vols., 1806-27; 9 vols., 1839 (includes 
Account of European Settlements in America, and Correspondence with 
Dr. Laurence, not in earlier English editions); 12 vols., revised edition, 
1865-7. 

SPEECHES AND LETTERS: Collection of Speeches, 1777; 4 vols., 1816; 
1854 with Memoir. 

LETTERS: edited by Earl Fitzwilliam and Sir R. Bourke, 4 vols., 1844. 

Letters and Speeches on Irish Affairs, editor M. Arnold, 1881; Speeches 
on American Taxation, and Conciliation with America, etc., editor F. G. 
Selby, 1895; editor A. D. Innes (Pitt Press Series), 1906. 

LIFE: Charles MacCormick, 1798; Robert Bisset, 1798, 1800; Sir Jam" 
Prior, 1824, 2nd edition enlarged, 1826; revised in Bohn (see above/; 
George Croly, 184.0; MacKnight, History of the Life and Times of Edmund 
Burke, 1858; Hon. J. Napier (lecture), 1862; J. Morley, Burke, a Historical 
Study, 1867; in English Men of Letters, 1879; E. A. Pankhurst, A Study of 
the Life and Cliaracter, etc., 1886; W. Willis, Edmund Burke, the Story of Ms 
Life (lecture), 1889; B. F. Brooke, Edmund Burke, a Literary Essay, 1897; 
G. A. Chadwick, 1902; T. D. Pillans, 1905; A. P. I. Samuel, The Early Life, 
Correspondence, and Writings of Edmund Burke, 1923; W. O'Brien, Edmund 
Burke as an Irishman, 1925; A. Cobban, Edmund Burks and the Revolt 
against the Eighteenth Century, 1929; Sir E. Barker, Burke and Bristol, 1931 ; 
M. Einaudi, The British Background of Burkes Political Philosophy, 1934; 
D. C. Azaur, Edmund Burke and Ms Literary Friends, I939*> Sir P. Magnus, 
Life, 1939; A. M. Osborn, Rousseau and Burke, 1944; G. M. Young, Bwrte 
(lecture), 1944; R T. Oliver, Four Who Spoke Out, 1946; E. E. Reynold--, 
Edmund Burke, Christian Statesman, 1948. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

REFLECTIONS ON TEE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE i 

A LETTER FROM MP BURKS TO A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL 
ASSEMBLY 245 

THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS, ETC 285 

NOTES TO REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE , . 331 



REFLECTIONS 

ON 

THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 

AND 

OM THE PROCEEDINGS IN CERTAIN SOCIETIES IN LONDON RELATIYB 
TO THAT EVENT 

IN A LETTER 

INTENDED TO HAVE BEEN SENT TO A GENTLEMAN IN PARIS 

1790 

IT may not be unnecessary to inform the reader, that the 
following" Reflections liad their origin in a correspondence 
between the Author and a very young- gentleman at Paris, 
who did him the honour of desiring his opinion upon the 
important transactions, which then, and ever since, have so 
much occupied the attention of all men. An answer was 
written some time in the month of October, 1789; but it 
was kept back upon prudential considerations. That 
letter is alluded to in the beginning of the following sheets. 
It has since been forwarded to the person to whom it was 
addressed. The reasons for the delay in sending it were 
.assigned in a short letter to the same gentleman. This 
produced on his part a new and pressing application for 
the Author's sentiments. 

The Author began a second and more full discussion on 
the subject. This he had some thoughts of publishing 
early in the last spring ; but, the matter gaining upon him, 
he found that what he had undertaken not only far ex- 
ceeded the measure of a letter, but that its importance 
required rather a more detailed consideration than at that 



2 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

time he had any leisure to bestow upon it. However 
having thrown down his first thoughts in the form of a 
letter, and, indeed, when he sat down to write, having 
intended it for a private letter, he found it difficult to 
change the form of address, when his sentiments had 
grown into a greater extent, and had received another 
direction. A different plan, he is sensible, might be more 
favourable to a commodious division and distribution of his 
matter. 



DEAR SIR, 

You are pleased to call again, and with some 
earnestness, for my thoughts on the late proceedings in 
France. ^ I will not give you reason to imagine that I think 
my sentiments of such value as to wish myself to be 
solicited about them. They are of too little consequence to 
be very anxiously either communicated or withheld. It 
was from attention to you, and to you only, that I hesi- 
tated at the time when you first desired to receive them. 
In the first letter I had the honour to write to you, and 
which at length I send, I wrote neither for, nor from, any 
description of men ; nor shall I in this. My errors, if any, 
are my own. My reputation alone is to answer for them. ' 

You see, Sir, by the long letter I have transmitted to 
you, that though I do most heartily wish that France may 
be animated by a spirit of rational liberty, and that I think 
you bound, in all honest policy, to provide a permanent 
body In which that spirit may reside, and an effectual 
organ by which it may act, it is my misfortune to entertain 
great doubts concerning several material points in your late 
transactions. 

^ You imagined, when you wrote last, that I might pos- 
sibly be ^reckoned among the approvers of certain pro- 
ceedings in France, from the solemn public seal of sanction 
they have received from two clubs of gentlemen in London, 
called the Constitutional Society, and the Revolution' 
Society. 

I certainly have the honour to belong to more clubs than 
one, in which the constitution of this kingdom, and the 
principles of the glorious Revolution, are held in high 
reverence, and I reckon myself among the most forward in 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 3 

my zeal for maintaining that constitution and those prin- 
ciples in their utmost purity and vigour. It is because I 
do so that I think it necessary for me that there should be 
no mistake. Those who cultivate the memory of our 
Revolution, and those who are attached to the constitution 
of this kingdom, will take good care how they are involved 
with persons, who under the pretext of zeal towards the 
Revolution and constitution too frequently wander from 
their true principles; and are ready on every occasion to 
depart from the firm but cautious and deliberate spirit 
which produced the one, and which presides in the other. 
Before I proceed to answer the more material particulars 
in your letter, I shall beg leave to give you such informa- 
tion as I have been able to obtain of the two clubs which 
have thought proper, as bodies, to interfere in the concerns 
of France; first assuring you, that I am not, and that I 
have never been, a member of either of those societies. 

The first, calling itself the Constitutional Society, or 
Society for Constitutional Information, or by some such 
title, is, I believe, of seven or eight years' standing. The 
institution of this society appears to be of a charitable, 
and so far of a laudable nature : it was intended for the 
circulation, at the expense of the members, of many books, 
which few others would be at the expense of buying ; and 
which might lie on the hands of the booksellers, tu the 
great loss of a useful body of men. Whether the books f 
so charitably circulated, were ever as charitably read, is 
more than I know. Possibly several of them have been 
exported to France; and, like goods not in request here, 
may with you have found a market. I have heard much 
talk of the lights to be drawn from books that are sent 
from hence. What improvements they have had in their 
passage (as it is said some liquors are meliorated by cross- 
ing the sea) I cannot tell : but I never heard a man of 
common judgment, or the least degree of information, 
speak a word in praise of the greater part of the publica- 
tions circulated by that society ; nor have their proceedings 
been accounted, except by some of themselves, as of any 
serious consequence. 

Your National Assembly seems to entertain much the 
same opinion that I do of this poor charitable club. As a 
nation, you reserved the whole stock of your eloquent 



4 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

acknowledgments for the Revolution Society; when their 
fellows in the Constitutional were, in equity, entitled to 
some share. Since you have selected the Revolution 
Society as the great object of your national thanks and 
praises, you will think me excusable in making its late 
conduct the subject of my observations. The National 
Assembly of France has given importance to these gentle- 
men by adopting them : and they return the favour, by 
acting as a committee in England for extending the prin- 
ciples of the National Assembly. Henceforward we must 
consider them as a kind of privileged persons ; as no 
inconsiderable members in the diplomatic body. This is 
one among the revolutions which have given splendour 
to obscurity, and distinction to undiscerned merit. Until 
very lately I do not recollect to have heard of this club. 
I am quite sure that it never occupied a moment of my 
thoughts ; nor, I believe, those of any person out of their 
own set. I find, upon inquiry, that on the anniversary of 
the Revolution in 1688, a club of dissenters, but of what 
denomination I know not, have long had the custom of 
hearing a sermon in one of their churches ; and that after- 
wards they spent the day cheerfully, as other clubs do, at 
the tavern. But I never heard that any public measure, 
or political system, much less that the merits of the con- 
stitution of any foreign nation, had been the subject of a 
formal proceeding at their festivals; until, to my inex- 
pressible surprise, I found them in a sort of public capacity, 
by a congratulatory address, giving an authoritative sanc- 
tion to the proceedings of the National Assembly in 
France. 

In the ancient principles and conduct of the club, so far 
at least as they were declared, I see nothing to which I 
could take exception. I think it very probable, that, for 
some purpose, new members may have entered among 
them ; and that some truly Christian politicians, who love 
to dispense benefits, but are careful to conceal the hand 
which distributes the dole, may have made them the instru- 
ments of their pious designs. Whatever I may have 
reason to suspect concerning private management, I shall 
^speak of nothing as of a certainty but what is public. 

For one, I should be sorry to be thought, directly or 
jndirectly, concerned in their proceedings. I certainly 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 5 

take my full share, along with the rest of the world, In my 
individual and private capacity, in speculating on what has 
been done, or is doing, on the public stage, in any place 
ancient or modern ; in the republic of Rome, or the republic 
of Paris; but having no genera! apostolical mission, being 
a citizen of a particular state, and being bound up, in a 
considerable degree, by its public will, I should think it at 
least improper and irregular for me to open a formal public 
correspondence with the actual government of a foreign 
nation, without the express authority of the government 
under which I live. 

I should be still more unwilling to enter into that corre- 
spondence under anything like an equivocal description, 
which to many, unacquainted with our usages, might make 
the address, in which I joined, appear as the act of persons 
in some sort of corporate capacity, acknowledged by the 
laws of this kingdom, and authorized to speak the sense 
of some part of it. On account of the ambiguity and un- 
certainty of unauthorized general descriptions, and of the 
deceit which^may be practised under them, and not from 
mere formality, the House of Commons would reject the 
xiiost sneaking petition for the most trifling object, under 
that mode of signature to which you have thrown open 
the folding doors of your presence chamber, and have 
ushered into your National Assembly with as much cere- 
mony and parade, and with as great a bustle of applause, 
as if you had been visited by the whole representative 
majesty of the whole English nation. If what this society 
has thought proper to send forth had been a piece of 
argument, it would have signified little whose argument it 
was. It would be neither the more nor the less convinc- 
ing on account of the party it came from. But this is 
only a vote and resolution. It stands solely on authority ; 
and in this case it is the mere authority of individuals, few 
of whom appear. Their signatures ought, in my opinion, 
to have been annexed to their instrument. The world 
would then have the means of knowing- how many they 
are; who they are; and of what value their opinions may 
be, from their personal abilities, from their knowledge, 
their experience, or their lead and authority in this state. 
To me, who am but a plain man, the proceeding looks a 
little too refined, and too ingenious ; it has too much the 



6 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

air of a political stratagem, adopted for the sake of giving, 
under a high-sounding name, an importance to the public 
declarations of this club, which, when the matter came to 
be closely inspected, they did not altogether so well 
deserve. It is a policy that has very much the complexion 
of a fraud. 

I flatter myself that I love a manly, moral, regulated 
liberty as well as any gentleman of that society, be he 
who he will; and perhaps I have given as good proofs of 
my attachment to that cause, in the whole course of my 
public conduct. I think I envy liberty as little as they do, 
to any other nation. But I cannot stand forward, and 
give praise or blame to anything which relates to human 
actions, and human concerns, on a simple view of the 
object, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the 
nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction. Cir- 
cumstances (which with some gentlemen pass for nothing) 
give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing 
colour and discriminating effect. The circumstances are 
what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or 
noxious to mankind. Abstractedly speaking, government, 
as well as liberty, is good; yet could I, in common sense, 
ten years ago, have felicitated France on her enjoyment 
of a government (for she then had a government) without 
inquiry what the nature of that government was, or how 
it was administered? Can I now congratulate the same 
nation upon its freedom? Is it because liberty in the 
abstract may be classed amongst the blessings of man- 
kind, that I am seriously to felicitate a madman, who has 
escaped from the protecting restraint and wholesome dark- 
ness of his cell, on his restoration to the enjoyment of light 
and liberty? Am I to congratulate a highwayman and 
murderer, who has broke prison, upon the recovery of his 
natural rights? This would be to act over again the 
scene of the criminals condemned to the galleys, and their 
heroic deliverer, the metaphysic knight of the sorrowful 
countenance. 

When I see the spirit of liberty in action, I see a strong 
principle at work ; and this, for a while, is all I can possibly 
know of it. The wild gas, the fixed air, is plainly broke 
loose : but we ought to suspend our judgment until the 
first effervescence is a little subsided, till the liquor is 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 7 

cleared, and until we see something- deeper than the agita- 
tion of a troubled and frothy surface. I must be tolerably 
sure, before I venture publicly to congratulate men upon 
a blessing, that they have really received one. Flattery 
corrupts both the receiver and the giver ; and adulation is 
not of more service to the people than to kings. I should 
therefore suspend my congratulations on the new liberty 
of France, until I was informed how it had been combined 
with government; with public force; with the discipline 
and obedience of armies ; with the collection of an effective 
and well-distributed revenue; with morality and religion; 
with the solidity of property; with peace and order; with 
civil and social manners. All these (in their way) are 
good things too ; and, without them, liberty is not a benefit 
whilst it lasts, and is not likely to continue long. The 
effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what 
they please : we ought to see what it will please them to 
do, before we risk congratulations, which may be soon 
turned into complaints. Prudence would dictate this in 
the case of separate, insulated, private men; but liberty, 
when men act in bodies, is power. Considerate people, 
before they declare themselves, will observe the use which 
is made of power; and particularly of so trying a thing as 
new power_ in new persons, of whose principles, tempers, 
and dispositions they have little or no experience, and in 
situations, where those who appear the most stirring in the 
scene may possibly not be the real movers. 

All these considerations, however, were below the trans- 
cendental Dignity of the Revolution Society. Whilst I 
continued In the country, from whence I had the honour of 
writing to you, I had but an imperfect idea of their trans- 
actions. On my coming to town, I sent for an account of 
their proceedings, which had been published by their 
authority, containing a sermon of Dr. Price, with the 
Duke de Rochefoucault's and the Archbishop of Aix's 
letter, and several other documents annexed. The whole 
of that publication, with the manifest design of connecting 
the affairs of France with those of England, by drawing 
us into an imitation of the conduct of the National 
Assembly, gave me a considerable degree of uneasiness. 
The effect of that conduct upon the power, credit, pros- 
perity, and tranquillity of France, became every day more 



B REFLECTIONS ON THE 

evident. The form of constitution to be settled, for its 
future polity, became more clear. We are now in a con- 
dition to discern, with tolerable exactness, the true nature 
of the object held up to our imitation. If the prudence 
of reserve and decorum dictates silence in some circum- 
stances, in others prudence of a higher order may justify 
us in speaking- our thoughts. The beginnings of confusion 
with us in England are at present feeble enough; but, 
with you, we have seen an infancy, still more feeble, grow- 
ing by moments into a strength to heap mountains upon 
mountains, and to wage war with heaven itself. When- 
ever our neighbour's house is on fire, it cannot be amiss 
for the engines to play a little on our own. Better to be 
despised for too anxious apprehensions, than ruined by 
too confident a security. 

Solicitous chiefly for the peace of my own country, but 
by no means unconcerned for yours, I wish to communi- 
cate more largely what was at first intended only for your 
private satisfaction. I shall still keep your affairs in my 
eye, and continue to address myself to you. Indulging 
myself in the freedom of epistolary intercourse, I beg leave 
to throw out my thoughts, and express my feelings, just 
as they arise in my mind, with very little attention to 
formal method. I set out with the proceedings of the 
Revolution Society ; but I shall not confine myself to them. 
Is it possible I should? It appears to me as if I were in 
a great crisis, not of the affairs of France alone, but of all 
Europe, perhaps of more than Europe. All circumstances 
taken together, the French Revolution is the most 
astonishing that has hitherto happened in the world. The 
most wonderful things are brought about in many instances 
by means the most absurd and ridiculous; in the most 
ridiculous modes ; and, apparently, by the most con- 
temptible instruments. Everything seems out of nature 
in this strange chaos of levity and ferocity, and of all sorts 
of crimes jumbled together with all sorts of follies. In 
viewing this monstrous tragi-comic scene, the most oppo- 
site passions necessarily succeed, and sometimes mix with 
each other in the mind ; alternate contempt and indigna- 
tion; alternate laughter and tears; alternate scorn and 
horror. 

It cannot, however, be denied, that to some this strange 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 9 

scene appeared in quite another point of view. Into them 
it inspired no other sentiments than those of exultation and 
rapture. They saw nothing in what has been done in 
France, ^ but a firm and temperate exertion of freedom : 
so consistent, on the whole, with morals and with piety 
as to make it deserving not only of the secular applause of 
dashing Machiavelian politicians, but to render it a fit 
theme for all the devout effusions of sacred eloquence. 

On the forenoon of the 4th of November last, Doctor 
Richard Price, a non-conforming minister of eminence, 
preached at the dissenting meeting-house of the Old 
Jewry, to his club or society, a very extraordinary miscel- 
laneous sermon, in which there are some good moral and 
religious sentiments, and not ill expressed, mixed up in 
a sort of porridge of various political opinions and reflec- 
tions ; but the Revolution in France is the grand ingredient 
in the cauldron. I consider the address transmitted by 
the Revolution Society to the National Assembly, through 
Earl Stanhope, as originating in the principles of the ser- 
mon, and as a corollary from them. It was moved by 
the preacher of that discourse. It was passed by those 
who came reeking from the effect of the sermon, without 
any censure or qualification, expressed or implied. If, 
however, any of the gentlemen concerned shall wish to 
separate the sermon from the resolution, they know how 
to acknowledge the one, and to disavow the other. They 
may do it : I cannot. 

For my part, I looked on that sermon as the public 
declaration of a man much connected with literary cabal- 
lers, and intriguing philosophers ; with political theologians, 
and theological politicians, both at home and abroad. I 
know they set him up as a sort of oracle ; because, with the 
best intentions in the world, he naturally philippizes, and 
chants his prophetic song in exact unison with their 
designs. 

That sermon is in a strain which I believe has not been 
heard in this kingdom, in any of the pulpits which are 
tolerated or encouraged in it, since die year 1648; when a 
predecessor of Dr. Price, the Rev. Hugh Peters, made 
the vault of the king's own chapel at St. James's ring with 
the honour and privilege of the saints, who, with the "high 
praises of God in their mouths, and a two-edged sword in 



io REFLECTIONS ON THE 

their hands, were to execute judgment on the heathen, and 
punishments upon the people; to bind their kings with 
chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron." x Few 
harangues from the pulpit, except in the days of your 
league in France, or in the days of our Solemn League and 
Covenant in England, have ever breathed less of the spirit 
of moderation than this lecture in the Old Jewry. Suppos- 
ing, however, that something like moderation were visible 
in this political sermon; yet politics and the pulpit are 
terms that have little agreement. No sound ought to be 
heard in the church but the healing voice of Christian 
charity. The cause of civil liberty and civil government 
gains as little as that of religion by this confusion of 
duties. Those who quit their proper character, to assume 
what does not belong to them, are, for the greater part, 
ignorant both of the character they leave, and of the 
character they assume. Wholly unacquainted with the 
world in which they are so fond of meddling, and inex- 
perienced in all its affairs, on which they pronounce with 
so much, confidence, they have nothing of politics but the 
passions they excite. Surely the church is a place where 
one day's truce ought to be allowed to the dissensions and 
animosities of mankind. 

This pulpit style, revived after so long a discontinu- 
ance, had^to me the air of novelty, and of a novelty not 
wholly without danger. I do not charge this danger 
equally to every part of the discourse. The hint given 
to a noble and reverend lay-divine, who is supposed high 
in office in one of our universities } 2 and other lay-divines 
"of rank and literature," may be proper and seasonable, 
though somewhat new. If the noble Seekers should find 
nothing to satisfy their pious fancies in the old staple of 
the national church, or in all the rich variety to be found 
in the well-assorted warehouses of the dissenting congre- 
gations, Dr. Price advises them to improve upon non- 
conformity ; and to set up, each of them, a separate meet- 
ing-house upon his own particular principles. 3 It is some- 

* Psalm cxlix. 

$ Discourse on the Love of our Country, Nov. 4th, 1789, by Dr. 
Richard Price, 3rd edition, pp. 17 and iS. 

3 "Those who dislike that mode of worship which is prescribed by 
public authority, ought, if they can find no worship out of the church 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE n 

what remarkable that this reverend divine should be so 
earnest for setting up new churches, and so perfectly 
indifferent concerning the doctrine which may be taught 
in them. His zeal is of a curious character. It Is not 
for the propagation of his own opinions, but of any 
opinions. It is not for the diffusion of truth, but for the 
spreading of contradiction. Let the noble teachers but 
dissent, it is no matter from whom or from what. This 
great point once secured, it is taken for granted their 
religion will be rational and manly. I doubt whether 
religion would reap all the benefits which the calculating 
divine computes from this " great company of great 
preachers." It would certainly be a valuable addition of 
nondescripts to the ample collection of known classes, 
genera and species, which at present beautify the hortus 
siccus of dissent. A sermon from a noble duke, or a noble 
marquis, or a noble earl, or baron bold, would certainly 
increase and diversify the amusements of this town, which 
begins to grow satiated with the uniform round of its vapid 
dissipations. I should only stipulate that these new Mess- 
Johns in robes and coronets should keep some sort of 
bounds in the democratic and levelling principles which 
are expected from their titled pulpits. The new evangel- 
ists will, I dare say, disappoint the hopes that are con- 
ceived of them. They will not become, literally as well as 
figuratively, polemic divines, nor be .disposed so to drill 
their congregations, that they may, as in former blessed 
times, preach their doctrines to regiments of dragoons and 
corps of infantry and artillery. Such arrangements, how- 
ever favourable to the cause of compulsory freedom, civil 
and religious, may not be equally conducive to the national 
tranquillity. These few restrictions I hope are no great 
stretches of Intolerance, no very violent exertions of 
despotism. 

But I may say of our preacher, "utinam nugis iota ilia 
dedisset tempom scevitice." All things in this his fulminat- 
ing bull are not of so innoxious a tendency. His doctrines 
affect our constitution in its vital parts. He tells the 

which they approve, to set up a separate worship for themselves; and 
by doing this, and giving an example of a rational and manly worship, 
men of weight from their rank and literature may do the greatest 
service to society and the world." P. 18, Dr. Price's Sermon. 



12 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Revolution Society In this political sermon, that his 
Majesty "is almost the only lawful king in the world, be- 
cause the only one who owes his crown to the choice of 
his people." As to the king's of the world, all of whom 
(except one) this archpontiff of the rights of men, with all 
the plenitude, and with more than the boldness, of the 
papal deposing power in its meridian fervour of the twelfth 
century, puts into one sweeping clause of ban and ana- 
thema, and proclaims usurpers by circles of longitude and 
latitude, over the whole globe, it behoves them to consider 
how they admit Into their territories these apostolic mis- 
sionaries, who are to tell their subjects they are not lawful 
kings. That is their concern. It is ours, as a domestic 
interest of some moment, seriously to consider the solidity 
of the only principle upon which these gentlemen acknow- 
ledge a king of Great Britain to be entitled to their 
allegiance. 

This doctrine, as applied to the prince now on the British 
throne, either is nonsense, and therefore neither true nor 
false, or it affirms a most unfounded, dangerous, Illegal, 
and unconstitutional position. According to this spiritual 
doctor of politics, if his Majesty does not owe his crown to 
the choice of his people, he is no lawful king. Now 
nothing can be more untrue than that the crown of this 
kingdom is so held by his Majesty. Therefore if you 
follow their rule, the king of Great Britain, who most cer- 
tainly does not owe his high office to any form of popular 
election, is In no respect better than the rest of the gang 
of usurpers, who reign, or rather rob, all over the face of 
this our miserable world, without any sort of right or title 
to the allegiance of their people. The policy of this general 
doctrine, so qualified, Is evident enough. The propagators 
of this political gospel are in hopes that their abstract 
principle (their principle that a popular choice is necessary 
to the legal existence of the sovereign magistracy) would 
be overlooked, whilst the king of Great Britain was not 
affected by it. In the mean time the ears of their congre- 
gations would be gradually habituated to it, as If it were a 
first principle admitted without dispute. For the present 
it would only operate as a theory, pickled in the preserving 
juices of pulpit eloquence, and laid by for future use. 
Condo et compono qua mox depromere possim. By this 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 13 

policy, whilst our government is soothed with a reserva- 
tion in^its favour, to which it has no claim, the security, 
which it has in common with all governments, so far as 
opinion is security, is taken away. 

Thus these politicians proceed, whilst little notice is 
taken of their doctrines ; but when they come to be examined 
upon the plain ^meaning of their words, and the direct 
tendency of their doctrines, then equivocations and slip- 
pery constructions come into play. When they say the 
king owes his crown to the choice of his people, and is 
therefore the only lawful sovereign in the world, they will 
perhaps tell us they mean to say no more than that some of 
the king's predecessors have been called to the throne by 
some sort of choice; and therefore he owes his crown to 
the choice of his people. Thus, by a miserable subterfuge, 
they hope to render their proposition safe, by rendering it 
nugatory. They are welcome to the asylum they seek for 
their offence, since they take refuge in their folly. For, 
if you admit this interpretation, how does their idea of 
election differ from our idea of inheritance? And how does 
the settlement of ^ the crown in the Brunswick line derived 
from James the First come to legalize our monarchy, rather 
than that of any of the neighbouring countries ? At some 
time or other, to be sure, all the beginners of dynasties 
were chosen by those who called them to govern. There 
is ground enough for the opinion that all the kingdoms of 
Europe^ were, at a remote period, elective, with more or 
fewer limitations in the objects of choice. But whatever 
kings might have been here, or elsewhere, a thousand 
years ago, or in whatever manner the ruling dynasties of 
England or France may have begun, the king of Great 
Britain is, at this day, king by a fixed rule of succession, 
according to the laws of his country ; and whilst the legal 
conditions of the compact of sovereignty are performed by 
him (as they are performed), he holds his crown in 
contempt of the choice of the Revolution Society , who 
have not a single vote for a king amongst them, either 
individually or collectively; though I make no doubt 
they would soon erect themselves into an electoral 
college, if things were ripe to give effect to their claim. 
His Majesty's heirs and successors, each in his time and 
order, will come to the crown with the same contempt of 



14 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

their choice with which his Majesty has succeeded to that 
he wears. 

Whatever may be the success of evasion in explaining 
away the gross error of /act, which supposes that his 
Majesty (though he holds it in concurrence with the wishes) 
owes his crown to the choice of his people, yet nothing can 
evade their full explicit declaration, concerning the 
principle of a right in the people to choose; which right 
is directly maintained, and tenaciously adhered to. All the 
oblique insinuations concerning election bottom in this pro- 
position, and are referable to it. Lest the foundation of 
the king's exclusive legal title should pass for a mere 
rant of adulatory freedom, the political divine proceeds 
dogmatically to assert, 1 that, by the principles of the 
Revolution, the people of England have acquired three 
fundamental rights, all which, with him, compose one 
system, and lie together in one short sentence; namely , 
that we have acquired a right, 

1. "To choose our own governors." 

2. "To cashier them for misconduct." 

3. "To frame a government for ourselves." 

This new, and hitherto unheard-of, bill of rights, though 
made in the name of the whole people, belongs to those 
gentlemen and their faction only. The body of the people 
of England have no share in it. They utterly disclaim it. 
They will resist the practical assertion of it with their lives 
and fortunes. They are bound to do so by the laws of 
their country, made at the time of that very Revolution 
which is appealed to in favour of the fictitious rights 
claimed by the society which abuses its name. 

These gentlemen of the Old Jewry, in all their reason- 
ings on the Revolution of 1688, have a Revolution which 
happened in England about forty years before, and the late 
French Revolution, so much before their eyes, and in their 
hearts, that they are constantly confounding all the three 
together. It is necessary that we should separate what 
they confound. We must recall their erring fancies to the 
acts of the Revolution which we revere, for the discovery 
of its true principles. If the principles of the Revolution 
of 1688 are anywhere to be found, it is in the statute called 
the Declaration of Right. In that most wise, sober, and 
1 P. 34, Discourse on the Love of our Country, by Dr. Price. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE JB 

considerate declaration, drawn up by great lawyers and 
great statesmen, and not by warm and inexperienced 
enthusiasts, not one word is said, nor one suggestion 
made, of a general right "to choose our own governors - to 
cashier them for misconduct; and to form a government 
for ourselves. 

This Declaration of Right (the act of the ist of William 
and Mary, sess. 2, ch. 2) is the corner-stone of our con- 
stitution, as reinforced, explained, improved, and in its 
fundamental principles for ever settled. It is called "An 
Act for declaring the rights and liberties of the subject 
and for settling the succession of the cmwo." You will 
observe, that these rights and this succession are declared 
in one body, and bound indissolubly together. 

A few years after this period, a second opportunity 
offered for asserting a right of election to the crown On 
the prospect of a total failure of issue from King William 
and from the Princess, afterwards Queen Anne, the con- 
sideration of the settlement of the crown, and of a further 
security for the liberties of the people, again came before 
the legislature. Did they this second time make any provi- 
sion for legalizing the crown on the spurious revolution 
principles of the Old Jewry? No. They followed the 
principles which prevailed in the Declaration of Rio-ht- 
indicating with more precision the persons who were to 
inherit in the Protestant line. This act also incorporated, 
by the same policy, our liberties, and an hereditary succes- 
sion m the same act. Instead of a right to choose our own 
governors, they declared that the succession in that line 
(the Protestant line drawn from James the First) was abso- 
lutely necessary "for the peace, quiet, and security of the 
realm," and that it was equally urgent on them "to main- 
tain a certainty in the succession thereof, to which the 
subjects may safely have recourse for their protection/' 
Both these acts, in which are heard the unerring, unam- 
biguous oracles of revolution policy, instead of countenanc- 
ing the delusive, gipsy predictions of a "right to choose 
our governors," prove to a demonstration how totally 
adverse the wisdom of the nation was from turning a case 
of necessity into a rule of law. 

Unquestionably there was at the Revolution, in the per- 
son of King William, a small and a temporary deviation 



16 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

from the strict order of a regular hereditary succession; 
but it is against all genuine principles of jurisprudence to 
draw a principle from a law made in a special case, and 
regarding an individual person. Privilegium non transit 
in exemplum. If ever there was a time favourable for 
establishing the principle, that a king of popular choice 
was the only legal king, without all doubt it was at the 
Revolution. Its not being done at that time is a proof that 
the nation was of opinion it ought not to be done at any 
time. There is no person so completely ignorant of our 
history as not to know, that the majority in parliament of 
both parties were so little disposed to anything resembling 
that principle, that at first they were determined to place 
the vacant crown, not on the head of the Prince of Orange, 
but on that of his wife Mary, daughter of King James, 
the eldest born of the issue of that king, which they 
acknowledged as undoubtedly his. It would be to repeat a 
very trite story, to recall to your memory all those circum- 
stances which demonstrated that their accepting King 
William was not properly a choice; but to all those who 
did not wish, in effect, to recall King James, or to deluge 
their country in blood, and again to bring their religion, 
laws, and liberties into the peril they had just escaped, it 
was an act of necessity, in the strictest moral sense in 
which necessity can be taken. 

In the very act, in which for a time, and in a single case, 
parliament departed from the strict order of inheritance, 
in favour of a prince, who, though not next, was however 
very near, In the line of succession, it is curious to observe 
how Lord Somers, who drew the bill called the Declaration 
of Right, has comported himself on that delicate occasion. 
It is curious to observe with what address this temporary 
solution of continuity is kept from the eye ; whilst all that 
could be found in this act of necessity to countenance the 
idea of an hereditary succession is brought forward, and 
fostered, and made the most of, by this great man, and 
by the legislature who followed him. Quitting the dry, 
imperative style of an act of parliament, he makes the 
Lords and Commons fall to a pious, legislative ejaculation, 
and declare, that they consider it "as a marvellous provi- 
dence, and merciful goodness of God to this nation, to 
preserve their said Majesties' royal persons, most happily 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 17 

to reign over us on the throne of their ancestors, for which, 
from the bottom of their hearts, they return their humblest 
thanks and praises." The legislature plainly had In view 
the act of recognition of the first Queen Elizabeth, chap. 
3rd, and of that of James the First, chap, ist, both acts 
strongly declaratory of the inheritable nature of the crown, 
and in many parts they follow, with a nearly literal preci- 
sion, the jwords and even the form of thanksgiving- which 
is found in these old declaratory statutes. 

The two houses, In the act of King William, did not 
thank God that they had found a fair opportunity to assert 
a right to choose their own governors, much less to make 
an election the only lawful title to the crown. Their 
having- been in a condition to avoid the very appearance 
of it, as much as possible, v. as by them considered as a 
providential escape. They threw a politic, well-wrought 
veil over every circumstance tending to weaken the rights, 
which in the meliorated order of succession they meant to 
perpetuate; or which might furnish a precedent for any 
future departure from what they had then settled for ever. 
Accordingly, that they might not relax the nerves of their 
monarchy, and that they might preserve a close conformity 
to the practice of their ancestors, as it appeared in the 
declaratory statutes of Queen Mary 1 and Queen Elizabeth, 
in the next clause they vest, by recognition, in their Majes- 
ties, all the legal prerogatives of "the crown, declaring, 
"that in them they are most fully, rightfully, and entirely 
invested, ^incorporated, united, and annexed." In the 
clause which follows, for preventing questions, by reason 
of any pretended titles to the crown, they declare (observ- 
ing also in this the traditionary language, along with the 
traditionary policy of the nation, and repeating as from a 
rubric the language of the preceding acts of Elizabeth and 
James), that on the preserving- "a certainty in the SUCCES- 
SION thereof, the unity, peace, and tranquillity of this 
nation doth, under God, wholly depend/' 

They knew that a doubtful title of succession would but 
too much resemble an election ; and that an election would 
be utterly destructive of the " unity, peace, and tranquillity 
of this nation/* which they thought to be considerations of 
some moment. To provide for these objects, and therefore 
1 ist Mary, sess. 3, ch. i. 



1 8 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

to exclude for ever the Old Jewry doctrine of "a right to 
choose our own governors," they follow with a clause con- 
taining a most ^solemn pledge, taken from the preceding 
act of Queen Elizabeth, as solemn a pledge as ever was or 
can be given in favour of an hereditary succession, and as 
solemn a renunciation as could be made of the principles 
by this society imputed to them. "The Lords spiritual 
and temporal, and Commons, do, In the name of all the 
people aforesaid, most humbly and faithfully submit them- 
selves, their heirs and posterities for ei)er ; and do faithfully 
promise that they will stand to, maintain, and defend their 
said Majesties, and also the limitation of the crown, herein 
specified and contained, to the utmost of their powers/' 
etc., etc. 

So far is it from being true, that we acquired a right by 
the Revolution to elect our kings, that if we had possessed 
it before, the English nation did at that time most solemnly 
renounce and abdicate it, for themselves, and for all their 
posterity for ever. These gentlemen may value themselves 
as much as they please on their Whig principles; but I 
never desire to be thought a better Whig than Lord 
Somers ; or to understand the principles of the Revolution 
better than those by whom it was brought about ; or to read 
in the Declaration of Right any mysteries unknown to 
those whose penetrating style has engraved in our ordin- 
ances, and in our hearts, the words and spirit of that 
immortal law. 

It is true, that, aided with the powers derived from force 
and opportunity, the nation was at that time, m some 
sense, free to take what course it pleased for filling the 
throne; but only free to do so upon the same grounds on 
which they might have wholly abolished their monarchy, 
and every other part of their constitution. However, they 
did not think such bold changes within their commission. 
It is indeed difficult, perhaps impossible, to give limits to 
the mere abstract competence of the supreme power, such 
as was exercised by parliament at that time ; but the limits 
of a moral competence, subjecting, even in powers more 
indisputably sovereign, occasional will to permanent 
reason, and to the steady maxims of faith, justice, and 
fixed fundamental policy, are perfectly intelligible, and per- 
fectly binding upon those who exercise any authority, 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE ig 

under any name, or under any title, in the state. The 
House of Lords, for instance, is not morally competent to 
dissolve the House of Commons ; no, nor even to dissolve 
itself, nor to^abdicate, if it would, its portion in the legisla- 
ture of the kingdom. Though a king may abdicate for his 
own person, he cannot abdicate for the monarchy. By as 
strong, or by a stronger reason, the House of Commons 
cannot renounce its share of authority. The engagement 
and pact^of society, which generally goes by the name of 
the constitution, forbids such invasion and such surrender. 
The constituent parts of a state are obliged to hold their 
public faith with each other, and with all those who derive 
any serious interest under their engagements, as much as 
the whole state is bound to keep its faith with separate 
communities. Otherwise competence and power would 
soon be confounded, and no law be left but the will of a 
prevailing force. On this principle the succession of the 
crown has always been what it now Is, an hereditary suc- 
cession by law^; in the old line it was a succession by the 
common law ; in the new by the statute law, operating on 
the principles of the common law, not changing the sub- 
stance, but regulating the mode, and describing the 
persons. Both these descriptions of law are of the same 
force, and are derived from an equal authority, emanating 
from the common agreement and original compact of the 
state, communi sponsions reipubliccz, and as such are 
equally binding on king and people too, as long as the terms 
are observed, and they continue the same body politic. 

It is far from impossible to reconcile, if we do not suffer 
ourselves to be entangled in the mazes of metaphysic 
sophistry, the use both of a fixed rule and an occasional 
deviation ; the sacredness of an hereditary principle of 
succession in our government, with a power of change in 
its application in cases of extreme emergency. Even in 
that extremity (if we take the measure of our rights by 
our exercise of them at the Revolution), the change is to 
be confined to the peccant part only; to the part which 
produced the necessary deviation; and even then it is to be 
effected without a decomposition of the whole civil and 
political mass, for the purpose of originating a new civil 
order out of the first elements of society. 

A state without the means of some change is withoul 



2 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

the means of Its conservation. Without such means it 
might even risk the loss of that part of the constitution 
which it wished the most religiously to preserve. The two 
principles of conservation and correction operated strongly 
at the two critical periods of the Restoration and Revolu- 
tion, when England found itself without a king. At both 
those periods the nation had lost the bond of union in their 
ancient edifice; they did not, however, dissolve the whole 
fabric. On the contrary, in both cases they regenerated 
the deficient part of the old constitution through the parts 
which were not impaired. They kept these old parts 
exactly as they were, that the part recovered might be 
suited to them. They acted by the ancient organized 
states in the shape of their old organization, and not by 
the organic molecules of a disbanded people. At no time, 
perhaps, did the sovereign legislature manifest a more 
tender regard to that fundamental principle of British con- 
stitutional policy, than at the time of the Revolution, when 
it deviated from the direct line of hereditary succession. 
The crown was carried somewhat out of the line in which 
it had before moved; but the new line was derived from 
the same stock. It was still a line of hereditary descent ; 
still an hereditary descent in the same blood, though an 
hereditary descent qualified with Protestantism. When 
the legislature altered the direction, but kept the principle, 
they showed that they held it inviolable. 

On this principle, the law of inheritance had admitted 
some amendment in the old time, and long before the era 
of the Revolution. Some time after the conquest great 
questions arose upon the legal principles of hereditary 
descent. It became a matter of doubt, whether the heir 
per capita or the heir per stirpes was to succeed; but 
whether the heir per capita gave way when the heirdom 
per stirpes took place, or the Catholic heir when the Pro- 
testant was preferred, the inheritable principle survived 
with a sort of immortality through all transmigrations 
multosque per annos stat fortuna domus, et am numerantur 
avorum* This is the spirit of our constitution, not only in 
its settled course, but in all its revolutions. Whoever 
came in, or however he came in, whether he obtained the 
crown by law, or by force, the hereditary succession was 
either continued or adopted. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 21 

The gentlemen of the Society for Revolutions see 
nothing in that of 1688 but the deviation from the constitu- 
tion ; and they take the deviation from the principle for 
the principle. They have little regard to the obvious con- 
sequences of their doctrine, though they must see, that it 
leaves positive authority in very few of the positive institu- 
tions of this country. When such an unwarrantable 
maxim is once established, that no throne is lawful but the 
elective, no one act of the princes who preceded this era 
of fictitious election can be. valid. Do these theorists mean 
to imitate some of their predecessors, who dragged the 
bodies of our ancient sovereigns out of the quiet of their 
tombs? Do they mean to attaint and disable backwards 
all the kings that have reigned before the Revolution, and 
consequently to stain the throne of England with the blot 
of a continual usurpation? Do they mean to invalidate, 
annul, or to call into question, together with the titles of 
the whole line of our kings, that great body of our statute 
law which passed under those whom they treat as 
usurpers? to annul laws of inestimable value to our liber- 
ties of as great value at least as any which have passed at 
or since the period of the Revolution? If kings, who did 
not owe their crown to the choice of their people, had no 
title to make laws, what will become of the statute de tal~ 
lagio non concedendo ? of the Petition of Right ? of the 
act of habeas corpus? Do these new doctors of the rights 
of men presume to assert, that King James the Second, 
who came to the crown as next of blood, according to the 
rules of a then unqualified succession, was not to all in- 
tents and purposes a lawful king of England, before he had 
done any of those acts which were justly construed into an 
abdication of his crown? If he was not, much trouble 
in parliament might have been saved at the period these 
gentlemen commemorate. But King James was a bad 
king with a good title, and not an usurper. The princes 
who succeeded according to the act of parliament which 
settled the crown on the Electress Sophia and on her 
descendants, being Protestants, cam in as much by a title 
of inheritance as King James did. He came in according 
to the law, as it stood at his accession to the crown ; and 
the princes of the House of Brunswick came to the inherit- 
ance of the crown, not by election, but by the law, as if 



22 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

stood at their several accessions of Protestant descent and 
inheritance, as I hope I have shown sufficiently. 

The law, by which this royal family is specifically 
destined to the succession, is the act of the i2th and i3th 
of King William. The terms of this act bind "us and our 
heirs, and our posterity, to them, their heirs, and their 
posterity," being Protestants, to the end of time, in the 
same words as the Declaration of Right had bound us to 
the heirs of King William and Queen Mary, It therefore 
secures both an hereditary crown and an hereditary allegi- 
ance. On what ground, except the constitutional policy 
of forming an establishment to secure that kind of succes- 
sion which is to preclude a choice of the people for ever, 
could the legislature have fastidiously rejected the fair and 
abundant choice which our country presented to them, and 
searched in strange lands for a foreign princess, from 
whose womb the line of our future rulers were to derive 
their title to govern millions of men through a series of 
ages ? 

The Princess Sophia was named in the Act of Settlement 
of the 1 2th and i3th of King William, for a stock and root 
of inheritance to our kings, and not for her merits as a 
temporary administratrix of a power, which she might not, 
and in fact did not, herself ever exercise. She was adopted 
for one reason, and for one only, because, says the act, 
"the most excellent Princess Sophia, Electress and 
Duchess Dowager of Hanover, is daughter of the most 
excellent Princess Elizabeth, late Queen of Bohemia, 
daughter of our late sovereign lord King James the First, 
of happy memory, and is hereby declared to be the next 
in succession In the Protestant line," etc., etc.; "and the 
crown shall continue to the heirs of her body, being Pro- 
testants." This limitation was made by parliament, that 
through the Princess Sophia an inheritable line not only 
was to be continued in future, but (what they thought very 
material) that through her it was to be connected with the 
old stock of inheritance in King James the First ; in order 
that the monarchy might preserve an unbroken unity 
through all ages, and might be preserved (with safety to 
our religion) in the old approved mode by descent, in 
which, if our liberties had been once endangered, they had 
often, through all storms and struggles of prerogative and 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 23 

privilege, been preserved. They did well. No experience 
has taught us, that in any other course or method than 
that of an hereditary crown our liberties can be regularly 
perpetuated and preserved sacred as our hereditary right. 
An irregular, convulsive movement may be necessary to 
throw off an irregular, convulsive disease. But the course 
of succession is the healthy habit of the British constitu- 
tion. Was it that the legislature wanted, at the act for 
the limitation of the crown in the Hanoverian line, drawn 
through the female descendants of James the First, a due 
sense of the inconveniences of having two or three, or 
possibly more, foreigners in succession to the British 
throne? No 1 they had a due sense of the evils which 
might happen from such foreign rule, and more than a due 
sense of them. But a more decisive proof cannot be given 
of the full conviction of the British nation, that the prin- 
ciples of the Revolution did not authorize them to elect 
kings at their pleasure, and without any attention to the 
ancient fundamental principles of our government, than 
their continuing to adopt a plan of hereditary Protestant 
succession in the old line, with all the dangers and all the 
inconveniences of its being a foreign line full before their 
eyes, and operating with the utmost force upon their 
minds. 

A few years ago I should be ashamed to overload a 
matter, so capable of supporting itself, by the then un- 
necessary support of any argument ; but this seditious, 
unconstitutional doctrine is now publicly taught, avowed, 
and printed. The dislike I feel to revolutions, the signals 
for which have so often been given from pulpits ; the spirit 
of change that is gone abroad ; the total contempt which 
prevails with you, and may come to prevail with us, of all 
ancient institutions, when set in opposition to a present 
sense of convenience, or to the bent of a present inclina- 
tion : all these considerations make it not unadvisable, in 
my opinion, to call back our attention to the true principles 
of our own domestic laws; that you, my French friend, 
should begin to know, and that we should continue to 
cherish them. We ought not, on either side of the water, 
to suffer ourselves to be imposed upon by the counterfeit 
wares which some persons, by a double fraud, export to 
you in illicit bottoms, as raw commodities of British 



24 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

growth, though wholly alien to our soil, in order after- 
wards to smuggle them back again into this country, 
manufactured after the newest Paris fashion of an im- 
proved liberty. 

The people of England will not ape the fashions they 
have never tried, nor go back to those which they have 
found mischievous on trial. They look upon the legal 
hereditary succession of their crown as among their rights, 
not as among their wrongs ; as a benefit, not as a griev- 
ance; as a security for their liberty, not as a badge of 
servitude. They look on the frame of their common- 
wealth, such as it stands, to be of inestimable value ; and 
they conceive the undisturbed succession of the crown to 
be a pledge of the stability and perpetuity of all the other 
members of our constitution. 

I shall beg leave, before I go any further, to take notice 
of some paltry artifices, which the abettors of election, as 
the only lawful title to the crown, are ready to employ, in 
order to ^ render the support of the just principles of our 
constitution a task somewhat invidious. These sophisters 
substitute a fictitious cause, and feigned personages, in 
whose favour they suppose you engaged, whenever you 
defend the inheritable nature of the crown. It is common 
with them to dispute as if they were in a conflict with some 
of those exploded fanatics of slavery, who formerly main- 
tained, what I believe no creature now maintains, "that 
the crown is held by divine, hereditary and indefeasible 
right." These old fanatics of single arbitrary power dog- 
matized as if hereditary royalty was the only lawful 
government in the world, just as our new fanatics of 
popular arbitrary power maintain that a popular election 
is the sole lawful source of authority. The old prerogative 
enthusiasts, it is true, did speculate foolishly, and perhaps 
impiously too, as if monarchy had more of a divine sanc- 
tion than any other mode of government ; and as if a right 
to govern by inheritance were in strictness indefeasible in 
every person, who should be found in the succession to a 
throne, and under every circumstance, which no civil or 
political right can be. ^ 'But an absurd opinion concerning 
the king's hereditary right to the crown does not prejudice 
one that is rational, and bottomed upon solid principles of 
law and policy. If all the absurd theories of lawyers and 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 25 

divines were to vitiate the objects in which they are con- 
versant, we should have no law and no religion left in the 
world. But an absurd theory on one side of a question 
forms no justification for alleging a false fact, or promul- 
gating mischievous maxims, on the other. 

The second claim of the Revolution Society is "a right of 
cashiering^ their governors for misconduct." Perhaps the 
apprehensions our ancestors entertained of forming such a 
precedent as that "of cashiering for misconduct/* was the 
cause that the declaration of the act, which implied the 
abdication of King James, was, if it had any fault, rather 
too guarded, and too circumstantial. 1 But all this guard, 
and all this accumulation of circumstances, serves to show 
the spirit of caution which predominated in the national 
councils in a situation in which men irritated by oppression, 
and elevated by a triumph over it, are apt to abandon 
themselves to violent and extreme courses : it shows the 
anxiety of the great men who influenced the conduct of 
affairs at that great event to make the Revolution a parent 
of settlement, and not a nursery of future revolutions. 

No government could stand a moment, if it could be 
blown down with anything so loose and indefinite as ai. 
opinion of " misconduct." They who led at the Revolu- 
tion grounded the virtual abdication of King James vipon 
no such light and uncertain principle. They charged him 
with nothing less than a design, confirmed by a multitude 
of illegal overt acts, to subvert the Protestant church and 
state, and their fundamental, unquestionable laws and 
liberties : they charged him with having broken the original 
contract between king and people. This was more than 
misconduct. A grave and overruling necessity obliged 
them to take the step they took, and took with infinite 
reluctance, as under that most rigorous of all laws. Their 
trust for the future preservation of the constitution was 
not in future revolutions. The grand policy of all their 
regulations was to render it almost impracticable for any 

i "That King James the Second, having endeavoured to subvert the 
constitution of the kingdom by breaking the original contract between 
king and people, and, by the advice of Jesuits, and other wicked per- 
sons, having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn 
himself out of the kingdom, hath abdicated the government, and the 
throne is thereby vacant." 



26 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

future sovereign to compel the states of the kingdom to 
have again recourse to those violent remedies. They left 
the crown what, in the eye and estimation of law, it had 
ever been, perfectly irresponsible. In order to lighten the 
crown still further, they aggravated responsibility on 
ministers of state. By the statute of the ist of King Wil- 
liam, sess. 2nd, called "the act for declaring the rights and 
liberties of the subject, and for settling the succession to 
the croiew," they enacted, that the ministers should serve 
the crown on the terms of that declaration. They secured 
soon after the frequent meetings of parliament, by which 
the whole government would be under the constant inspec- 
tion and active control of the popular representative and 
of the magnates of the kingdom. In the next great con- 
stitutional act, that of the i2th and i3th of King William, 
for the further limitation of the crown, and better securing 
the rights and liberties of the subject, they provided, " that 
no pardon under the great seal of England should be plead- 
able to an impeachment by the Commons in parliament." 
The rule laid down for government in the Declaration of 
Right, the constant inspection of parliament, the practical 
claim of impeachment, they thought infinitely a better 
security not only for their constitutional liberty, but against 
the vices of administration, than the reservation of a right 
so difficult in the practice, so uncertain in the issue, and 
often so mischievous in the consequences, as that of 
"cashiering their governors." 

Dr. Price, in his sermon, 1 condemns very properly the 
practice of gross, adulatory addresses to kings. Instead 
of this fulsome style, he proposes that his Majesty should 
be told, on occasions of congratulation, that "he is to con- 
sider himself as more properly the servant than the 
sovereign of his people." For a compliment, this new 
form of address does not seem to be very soothing. Those 
who are servants in name, as well as in effect, do not like 
to be told of their situation, their duty, and their obliga- 
tions. The slave, in the old play, tells his master, "Hcec 
commemoratio est quasi exprobratio." It is not pleasant 
as compliment; it is not wholesome as instruction. After 
all, if the king were to bring himself to echo this new kind 
of address, to adopt it in terms, and even to take the 

1 Pp. 22-24. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 27 

appellation of Servant of the People as his royal style, 
how either he or we should be much mended by it, I can- 
not imagine. I have seen very assuming letters, signed, 
Your most obedient, humble servant. The proudest de- 
nomination that ever was endured on earth took a title of 
still greater humility than that which is now proposed for 
sovereigns by the Apostle of Liberty. Kings and nations 
were trampled upon by the foot of one calling himself "the 
Servant of Servants" ; and mandates for deposing 
sovereigns were sealed with the signet of "the Fisherman. " 

I should have considered all this as no more than a sort 
of flippant, vain discourse, in which, as in an unsavoury 
fume, several persons suffer the spirit of liberty to evapor- 
ate, if it were not plainly in support of the Idea, and a part 
of the scheme, of "cashiering kings for misconduct." In 
that light it is worth some observation. 

Kings, in one sense, are undoubtedly the servants of the 
people, because their power has no other rational end than 
that of the general advantage ; but it is not true that they 
are, in the ordinary sense, (by our constitution at least ^ 
anything like servants ; the essence of whose situation is to 
obey the commands of some other, and to be removable at 
pleasure. But the king of Great Britain obeys no other 
person ; all other persons are individually, and collectively 
too, under him, and owe to him a legal obedience. The 
law, which knows neither to flatter nor to insult, calls this 
high magistrate, not our servant, as this humble divine 
calls him, but "our sovereign Lord the king" ; and we, on 
our parts, have learned to speak only the primitive lan- 
guage of the law, and not the confused jargon of their 
Babylonian pulpits. 

As he is not to obey us, but as we are to obey the law in 
him, our constitution has made no sort of provision to- 
wards rendering him, as a servant, in any degree respon- 
sible. Our constitution knows nothing of a magistrate 
like the Justicia of Arragon; nor of any court leg-ally 
appointed, nor of any process legally settled, for submit- 
ting the king to the responsibility belonging to all servants. 
In this he is not distinguished from the Commons and 
the Lords ; who, in their several public capacities, can 
never be called to an account for their conduct; although 
the Revolution Society chooses to assert, in direct opposi- 



28 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

tion to one of the wisest and most beautiful parts of our 
constitution, that " a king is no more than the first servant 
of the public, created by it, and responsible to it." 

Ill would our ancestors at the Revolution have deserved 
their fame for wisdom, if they had found no security for 
their freedom, but in rendering their government feeble in 
its operations and precarious in its tenure ; if they had been 
able to contrive no better remedy against arbitrary power 
than civil confusion. Let these gentlemen state who that 
representative public is to whom they will affirm the king, 
as a servant, to be responsible. It will be then time 
enough for me to produce to them the positive statute law 
which affirms that he is not. 

The ceremony of cashiering kings, of which these gentle- 
men talk so much at their ease, can rarely, if ever, be 
performed without force. It then becomes a case of war, 
and not of constitution. Laws are commanded to hold 
their tongues amongst arms; and tribunals fall to the 
ground with the peace they are no longer able to uphold. 
The Revolution of 1688 was obtained by a just war, in the 
only case in which any war, and much more a civil war, 
can be just. "Justa bella quibus necessaria." The ques- 
tion of dethroning, or, if these gentlemen like the phrase 
better, "cashiering kings, " will always be, as it has always 
been, an extraordinary question of state, and wholly out 
of the law ; a question (like all other questions of state) of 
dispositions, and of means, and of probable consequences, 
rather than of positive rights.* As it was not made for 
common abuses, so it is not to be agitated by common 
minds. The speculative line of demarcation, where obedi- 
ence ought to end, and resistance must begin, is faint, 
obscure, and not easily definable. It is not a single act, 
or a single event, which determines it. Governments must 
be abused and deranged indeed, before it can be thought 
of ; and the prospect of the future must be as bad as the 
experience of the past. When things are in that lament- 
able condition, the nature of the disease is to indicate the 
remedy to those whom nature has qualified to administer 
in extremities this critical, ambiguous, bitter potion to a 
distempered state. Times, and occasions, and provoca- 
tions will teach their own lessons. The wise will deter- 
mine from the gravity of the case; the irritable, from 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 29 

sensibility to oppression ; the high-minded, from disdain and 
indignation at abusive power in unworthy hands ; the brave 
and bold, from the love of honourable danger in a generous 
cause : but, with or without right, a revolution will be the 
very last ^resource of the thinking and the good. 

The third head of right, asserted by the pulpit of the Old 
Jewry, namely, the "right to form a government for our- 
selves, >J has, at least, as little countenance from anything 
done at the Revolution, either in precedent or principle, as 
the two first of their claims. The Revolution was made to 
preserve ^ our ancient indisputable laws and liberties, and 
that ancient constitution of government which is our only 
security for law and liberty. If you are desirous of know- 
ing the spirit of our constitution, and the policy which 
predominated in that great period which has secured it to 
this hour, pray look for both in our histories, in our 
records, in our acts of parliament, and journals of parlia- 
ment, and not in the sermons of the Old Jewry, and the 
after-dinner toasts of the Revolution Society. In the 
former you will find other ideas and another language. 
Such a claim is as ill-suited to our temper and wishes as 
it is unsupported by any appearance of authority. The 
very idea of the fabrication of a new government is enough 
to fill us with disgust and horror. We wished at the period 
of the Revolution, and do now wish, to derive all we 
possess as an inheritance from our forefathers. Upon that 
body and stock of inheritance we have taken care not to 
inoculate any scion alien to the nature of the original plant. 
All the reformations we have hitherto made have proceeded 
upon the principle of reverence to antiquity; and I hope, 
nay I am persuaded, that all those which possibly may be 
made hereafter, will be carefully formed upon analogical 
precedent, authority, and example. 

Our oldest reformation is that of Magna Charta. You 
will see that Sir Edward Coke, that great oracle of our law, 
and indeed all the great men who follow him, to Black- 
stone, 1 are industrious to prove the pedigree of our liber- 
ties. They endeavour to prove, that the ancient charter, 
the Magna Charta of King John, was connected with 
another positive charter from Henry I., and that both the 
one and the other were nothing more than a reaffirrnance 
l See Blackstone's Magna Charta, printed at Oxford, 1759. 



3 o REFLECTIONS ON THE 

of the still more ancient standing law of the kingdom. In 
the matter of fact, for the greater part, these authors 
appear to be in the right; perhaps not always; but if the 
lawyers mistake in some particulars, it proves my position 
still the more strongly ; because it demonstrates the power- 
ful prepossession towards antiquity, with which the minds 
of all our lawyers and legislators, and of all the people 
whom they wish to influence, have been always filled ; and 
the stationary policy of this kingdom in considering their 
most sacred rights and franchises as an inheritance. 

In the famous law of the 3rd of Charles L, called the 
Petition of Right, the parliament says to the king, "Your 
subjects have inherited this freedom," claiming their fran- 
chises not on abstract principles "as the rights of men," 
but as the rights of Englishmen, and as a patrimony 
derived from their forefathers. Selden, and the other pro- 
foundly learned men, who drew this Petition of Right, were 
as well acquainted, at least, with all the general theories 
concerning the "rights of men," as any of the discoursers 
in our pulpits, or on your tribune; full as well as Dr. Price, 
or as the Abbe* Sieyes. But, for reasons worthy of that 
practical wisdom which superseded their theoretic science, 
they preferred this positive, recorded, hereditary title to 
all which can be dear to the man and the citizen, to that 
vague speculative right, which exposed their sure inherit- 
ance to be scrambled for and torn to pieces by every wild, 
litigious spirit. 

The same policy pervades all the laws which have since 
been made for the preservation of our liberties. In the ist 
of William and Mary, in the famous statute, called the 
Declaration of Right, the two Houses utter not a syllable 
of "a right to frame a government for themselves." You 
will see, that their whole care was to secure the religion, 
laws, and liberties, that had been long possessed, and had 
been lately endangered. " Taking * into their most serious 
consideration the "best means for making such an establish- 
ment, that their religion, laws, and liberties might not be 
in danger of being again subverted," they auspicate all 
their proceedings, by stating as some of those best means, 
"in the first place " to do "as their ancestors in like cases 
have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and 
1 i W. and M. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 31 

liberties, to declare" ; and then they pray the king and 
queen, "that it may be declared and enacted, that all and 
singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared, are 
the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the 
people of this kingdom." 

You will observe, that from Magna Charta to the 
Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our 
constitution to claim and assert our liberties, as an entailed 
inheritance derived to us from our forefathers, and to be 
transmitted to our posterity ; as an estate specially belong- 
ing to the people of this kingdom, without any reference 
whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this 
means our constitution preserves a unity in so great a 
diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown ; an 
inheritable peerage; and a House of Commons and a people 
inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties, from a long 
line of ancestors. 

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound 
reflection; or rather the happy effect of following nature, 
which is wisdom without reflection, and above it. A spirit 
of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper 
and confined views. People will not look forward to pos- 
terity, who never look backward to their ancestors. 
Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea 
of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation 
and a sure principle of transmission ; without at all exclud- 
ing a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition 
free; but It secures what It acquires. Whatever advan- 
tages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims, 
are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement; grasped 
as in a kind of mortmain for even By a constitutional 
policy, working after the pattern of nature, we receive, 
we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges, 
in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our 
property and our lives. The Institutions of policy, the 
goods of fortune, the gifts of providence, are handed down 
to us, and from us, in the same course and order. Our 
political system is placed in a just correspondence anc? 
symmetry with the order of the world, and with the mode 
of existence decreed to a permanent body composed oi 
transitory parts ; wherein, by the disposition of a stupend- 
ous wisdom, moulding together the great mysterious 



3* REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Incorporation of the human race, the whole, at one time, 
is never old, or middle-aged, or young-, but, in a condition 
of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied 
tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. 
Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct 
of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly 
new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. 
By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our 
forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of anti- 
quarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this 
choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity 
the Image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitu- 
tion of our country with our dearest domestic ties ; adopt- 
ing our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family 
affections ; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the 
warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected chari- 
ties, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars. 
Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our 
artificial institutions, and by calling in the aid of her un- 
erring and powerful instincts, to fortify the fallible and 
feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several 
other, and those no small benefits, from considering our 
liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as 
if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of 
freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tem- 
pered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent 
inspires us with a sense of habitual native dignity, which 
prevents that upstart insolence almost inevitably adhering 
to and disgracing those who are the first acquirers of any 
distinction. By this means our liberty becomes a noble 
freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It 
has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bear- 
ings, and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of por- 
traits ; its monumental inscriptions ; its records, evidences, 
and titles. We procure reverence to our civil institutions 
on the principle upon which nature teaches us to revere 
individual men ; on account of their age, and on account of 
those from whom they are descended. All your sophisters 
cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a 
rational and manly freedom than the course that we have 
pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our 
speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 33 

the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and 
privileges. 

You might, If you pleased, have profited of our example, 
and have given to your recovered freedom a correspondent 
dignity. Your privileges, though discontinued, were not 
lost to memory. Your constitution, it is true, whilst you 
were out of possession, suffered waste and dilapidation; 
but you possessed in some parts the walls, and, in all, the 
foundations, of a noble and venerable castle. You might 
have repaired those walls ; you might have built on those 
old foundations. Your constitution was suspended before 
it was perfected ; but you had the elements of a constitution 
very nearly as good as could be wished. In your old states 
you possessed that variety of parts corresponding with 
the various descriptions of which your community was 
happily composed; you had all that combination, and all 
that opposition of interests, you had that action and 
counteraction, which, in the natural and in the political 
world, from the reciprocal struggle of discordant powers, 
draws out the harmony of the universe. These opposed 
and conflicting interests, which you considered as so great 
a blemish in your old and in our present constitution, 
interpose a salutary check to all precipitate resolutions. 
They render deliberation a matter not of choice, but of 
necessity ; they make all change a subject of compromise, 
which naturally begets moderation ; they produce tempera- 
ments preventing the sore evil of harsh, crude, unqualified 
reformations ; and rendering all the headlong exertions of 
arbitrary power, in the few or in the many, for ever im- 
practicable. Through that diversity of members and in- 
terests, general liberty had as many securities as there 
were separate views in the several orders ; whilst by press- 
ing down the whole by the weight of a real monarchy, the 
separate parts would have been prevented from warping, 
and starting from their allotted places. 

You had all these advantages in your ancient states ; but 
you chose to act as if you had never been moulded into 
civil society, and had "everything to begin anew. You 
began ill, because you began by despising everything that 
belonged to you. You set up your trade without a capital. 
If the last generations of your country appeared without 
much lustre in your eyes, you might have passed them 



34 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

by, and derived your claims from a more early race of 
ancestors. Under a pious predilection for those ancestors, 
your imaginations would have realized in them a standard 
of virtue and wisdom, beyond the vulgar practice of the 
hour : and you would have risen with the example to whose 
imitation you aspired. Respecting your forefathers, you 
would have been taught to respect yourselves. You would 
not have chosen to consider the French as a people of 
yesterday, as a nation of low-born servile wretches until 
the emancipating year of 1789. In order to furnish, at 
the expense of your honour, an excuse to your apologists 
here for several enormities of yours, you would not have 
been content to be represented as a gang of Maroon slaves, 
suddenly broke loose from the house of bondage, and 
therefore to be pardoned for your abuse of the liberty to 
which you were not accustomed, and 111 fitted. Would it 
not, my worthy friend, have been wiser to have you 
thought, what I, for one, always thought you, a generou^ 
and gallant nation, long misled to your disadvantage by 
your high and romantic sentiments of fidelity, honour, and 
loyalty ; that events had been unfavourable to you, but that 
you \vere not enslaved through any illiberal or servile dis- 
position; that in your most devoted submission, you were 
actuated by a principle of public spirit, and that it was 
your country you worshipped, in the person of your king? 
Had you made it to be understood, that in the delusion of 
this amiable error you had gone farther than your wise 
ancestors; that you were resolved to resume your ancient 
privileges, whilst you preserved the spirit of your ancient 
and your recent loyalty and honour ; or if, diffident of your- 
selves, and not clearly discerning the almost obliterated 
constitution of your ancestors, you had looked to your 
neighbours in this land, who had kept alive the ancient 
principles and models of the old common law of Europe 
meliorated and adapted to its present state by following 
wise examples you would have given new examples of 
wisdom to the world. You would have rendered the cause 
of liberty venerable in the eyes of every worthy mind in 
every nation. You would have shamed despotism from 
the earth, by showing that freedom was not only recon- 
cilable, but, as when well disciplined it is, auxiliary to law. 
You would have had an unoppressive but a productive 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 35 

revenue. You would have had a flourishing- commerce to 
feed it. You would ^have had a free constitution; a potent 
monarchy ; a disciplined army ; a reformed and venerated 
clergy; a mitigated but spirited nobility, to lead your 
virtue, not to overlay it; you would have had a liberal order 
of commons, to emulate and to recruit that nobility; you 
would have had a protected, satisfied, laborious, and 
obedient people, taught to seek and to recognise the happi- 
ness _that is to be found by virtue in all conditions; in which 
consists the true moral equality of mankind, and not in 
that monstrous fiction, which, by inspiring false ideas and 
vain expectations into men destined to travel in the obscure 
walk of laborious life, serves only to aggravate and em- 
bitter that real inequality, which it never can remove ; and 
which the order of civil life establishes as much for the 
benefit of those whom it must leave in a humbe state, as 
those whom it is able to exalt to a condition more splendid, 
but not^ more happy. You had a smooth and easy career 
of felicity and glory laid open to you, beyond anything 
recorded in the history of the world ; but you have shown 
that difficulty is good for man. 

Compute your gains : see what is got by those extrava- 
gant and presumptuous speculations which have taught 
your leaders^to despise all their predecessors, and all their 
contemporaries, and even to despise themselves, until the 
moment in which they became truly despicable. By follow- 
ing those false Alights, ^France has bought undisguised 
calamities at a higher price than any nation has purchased 
the most unequivocal blessings I France has bought 
poverty by crime ! France has not sacrificed her virtue 
to her interest, but she has abandoned her interest, that 
she might prostitute her virtue. All other nations have 
begun the fabric of a new government, or the reformation 
of an old, by establishing originally, or by enforcing with 
greater exactness, some rites or other of religion. All 
other people have laid the foundations of civil freedom 
in severer manners, and a system of a more austere and 
masculine morality. France, when she let loose the reins 
of regal authority, doubled the licence of a ferocious dis- 
soluteness in manners, and of an insolent irreligion in 
opinions and practices ; and has extended through all ranks 
of life, as if she were communicating some privilege, or 



36 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

laying open some secluded benefit, all the unhappy corrup- 
tions that usually were the disease of wealth and power. 
This is one of the new principles of equality in France. 

France, by the perfidy of her leaders, has utterly dis- 
graced the tone of lenient council in the cabinets of princes, 
and disarmed it of its most potent topics. She has sancti- 
fied the dark, suspicious maxims of tyrannous distrust ; and 
taught kings to tremble at (what will hereafter be called) 
the delusive plausibilities of moral politicians. Sovereigns 
will consider those, who advise them to place an unlimited 
confidence in their people, as subverters of their thrones; 
as traitors who aim at their destruction, by leading their 
easy good-nature, under specious pretences, to admit com- 
binations of bold and faithless men into a participation of 
their power. This alone (if there were nothing else) is an 
irreparable calamity to you and to mankind. Remember 
that your parliament of Paris told your king, that, in call- 
ing the states together, he had nothing to fear but the 
prodigal excess of their zeal in providing for the support of 
the throne. It is right that these men should hide their 
heads. It is right that they should bear their part in the 
ruin which their counsel has bro-ug-ht on their sovereign 
and their country. Such sang-uine declarations tend to lull 
authority asleep ; to encourage it rashly to engage in peril- 
ous adventures of untried policy ; to neglect those provi- 
sions, preparations, and precautions, which distinguish 
benevolence from imbecility ; and without which no man 
can answer for the salutary effect of any abstract plan of 
government or of freedom. For want of these, they have 
seen the medicine of the state corrupted into its poison. 
They have seen the French rebel against a mild and lawful 
monarch, with more fury, outrage, and insult, than ever 
any people has been known to rise against the most illegal 
usurper,, or the most sanguinary tyrant. Their resistance 
was made to concession ; their revolt was from protection ; 
their blow was aimed at a hand holding out graces, 
favours, and immunities. 

This was unnatural. The rest is in order. They have 
found their punishment in their success. Laws over- 
turned ; tribunals subverted ; industry without vigour ; 
commerce expiring; the revenue unpaid, yet the people 
jrnpoverished ; a church pillaged, and a state not relieved ; 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 37 

civil and military anarchy made the constitution of the 
kingdom; everything- human and divine sacrificed to the 
idol of public credit, and national bankruptcy the conse- 
quence; and, to crown all, the paper securities of new, 
precarious, tottering power, the discredited paper securi- 
ties of impoverished fraud and beggared rapine, held out 
as a currency for the support of an empire, in lieu of the 
two great recognized species that represent the lasting, 
conventional credit of mankind, which disappeared and hid 
themselves in the earth from whence they came, when the 
principle of property, whose creatures and representatives 
they are, was systematically subverted. 

Were all these dreadful things necessary? Were they 
the inevitable results of the desperate struggle of, deter- 
mined patriots, compelled to wade through blood and 
tumult, to the quiet shore of a tranquil and prosperous 
liberty? No ! nothing like it. The fresh ruins of France, 
which shock our feelings wherever we can turn our eyes, 
are not the devastation of civil war; they are the sad but 
instructive monuments of rash and ignorant counsel in 
time of profound peace. They are the display of incon- 
siderate and presumptuous, because unresiste"d and irre- 
sistible, authority. The persons who have thus squandered 
away the precious treasure of their crimes, the persons 
who have made this prodigal and wild waste of public 
evils (the last stake reserved for the ultimate ransom of 
the state), have met in their progress with little, or rather 
with no opposition at all. Their whole march was more 
like a triumphal procession, than the progress of a war. 
Their pioneers have gone before them, and demolished 
and laid everything level at their feet. Not one drop of 
their blood have they shed in the cause of the country they 
have ruined. They have made no sacrifices to their pro- 
jects of greater consequence than their shoe-buckles, whilst 
they were imprisoning their king, murdering their fellow- 
citizens, and bathing in tears, and plunging* in poverty and 
distress, thousands of worthy men and worthy families. 
Their cruelty has not even been the base result of fear. 
It has been the effect of their sense of perfect safety, in 
authorizing treasons, robberies, rapes, assassinations, 
slaughters, and burnings, throughout their harassed land. 
But the cause of all was plain from the beginning. 



3^ REFLECTIONS ON THE 

This unforced choice, this fond election of evil, would 
appear perfectly unaccountable, if we did not consider the 
composition of the National Assembly : I do not mean its 
formal constitution, which, as it now stands, is exception- 
able enough, but the materials of which, in a great 
measure, it is composed, which is of ten thousand times 
greater consequence than all the formalities in the world. 
If we were to know nothng of this Assembly but by its 
title and function, no colours could paint to the imagina- 
tion anything more venerable. In that light the mind of 
an inquirer, subdued by such an awful image as that of th^ 
virtue and wisdom of a whole people collected into a focus, 
would pause and hesitate in condemning things even of 
the very worst aspect. Instead of blarneable, they would 
appear only mysterious. But no name, no power, no func- 
tion, no artificial institution whatsoever, can make the 
men of whom any system of authority is composed any 
other than God, and nature, and education, and their habits 
of life have made them. Capacities beyond these the 
people have not to give. Virtue and wisdom may be the 
objects of their choice ; but their choice confers neither 
the one nor the other on those upon whom they lay their 
ordaining hands. They have not the engagement of 
nature, they have not the promise of revelation, for any 
such powers. 

After I had read over the list of the persons and descrip- 
tions selected into the Tiers Etat, nothing which they after- 
wards did could appear astonishing. Among them, indeed, 
I saw some of known rank ; some of shining talents ; but of 
any practical experience in the state, not one man was to be 
found. The best were only men of theory. But whatever 
the distinguished few may have been, it is the substance 
and mass of the body which constitutes its character, and 
must finally determine its direction. In all bodies, those 
who will lead, must also, in a considerable degree, follow. 
They must conform their propositions to the taste, talent, 
and disposition, of those whom they wish to conduct : 
therefore, if an assembly is viciously or feebly composed in 
a very great part of it, nothing but such a supreme degree 
of virtue as very rarely appears in the world, and for that 
reason cannot enter into calculation, will prevent the men 
of talent disseminated through it from becoming only the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 39 

expert instruments of absurd projects ! If, what is the 
more likely event, instead of that unusual degree of virtue, 
they should be actuated by sinister ambition, and a lust of 
meretricious glory, then the feeble part of the Assembly, 
to whom at first they conform, becomes in its turn the 
dupe and instrument of their designs. In this political 
traffic, the leaders will be obliged to bow to the ignorance 
of their followers, and the followers to become subservient 
to the worst designs of their leaders. 

To secure any degree of sobriety in the propositions 
made by the leaders in any public assembly, they ought to 
respect, in some degree perhaps to fear, those whom they 
conduct. To be led any otherwise than blindly, the fol- 
lowers must be qualified, if not for actors, at least for 
judges; they must also be judges of natural weight and 
authority. Nothing can secure a steady and moderate 
conduct in such assemblies, but that the body of them 
should be respectably composed, in point of condition in 
life, of permanent property, of education, and of such 
habits as enlarge and liberalize the understanding. 

In the calling of the states-general of France, the first 
thing that struck me, was a great departure from the 
ancient course. I found the representation for the third 
estate composed of six hundred persons. They were equal 
in number to the representatives of both the other orders. 
If the orders were to act separately, the number would not, 
beyond the consideration of the expense, be of much 
moment. But when it became apparent that the three 
orders were to be melted down into one, the policy and 
necessary effect of this numerous representation became 
obvious. A very small desertion from either of the other 
two orders must throw the power of both into the hands 
of the third. In fact, the whole power of the state was 
soon resolved into that body. Its due composition became 
therefore of infinitely the greater importance. 

Judge, Sir, of my surprise, when I found that a very 
great proportion of the Assembly (a majority, I believe, of 
the members who attended) was composed of practitioners 
in the law. It was composed, not of distinguished magis- 
trates, who had given pledges to their country of their 
science, prudence, and integrity ; not of leading advocates, 
the glory of the bar ; not of renowned professors in univer- 



40 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

sities ; but for the far greater part, as It must in such a 
number, of the inferior, unlearned, mechanical, merely 
instrumental members of the profession. There were dis- 
tinguished exceptions ; but the general composition was 
of obscure provincial advocates, of stewards of petty local 
jurisdictions, country attorneys, notarys, and the whole 
train of the ministers of municipal litigation, the fomenters 
and conductors of the petty war of village vexation. 
From the moment I read the list, I saw distinctly, and 
very nearly as it has happened, all that was to follow. 

The degree of estimation in which any profession is held 
becomes the standard of the estimation in which the pro- 
fessors hold themselves. Whatever the personal merits of 
many individual lawyers might have been, and in many it 
was undoubtedly very considerable, in that military king- 
dom no part of the profession had been much regarded, 
except the highest of all, who often united to their profes- 
sional offices great family splendour, and were invested 
with great power and authority. These certainly were 
highly respected, and even with no small degree of awe. 
The next rank was not much esteemed ; the mechanical 
part was in a very low degree of repute. 

Whenever the supreme authority is vested in a body so 
composed, it must evidently produce the consequences of 
supreme authority placed in the hands of men not taught 
habitually to respect themselves ; who had no previous for- 
tune in character at stake ; who could not be expected to 
bear with moderation, or to conduct with discretion, a 
power, which they themselves, more than any others, must 
be surprised to find in their hands. Who could flatter 
himself that these men, suddenly, and, as it were, by en- 
chantment, snatched from the humblest rank of subordina- 
tion, would not be intoxicated with their unprepared 
greatness? Who could conceive that men, who are habit- 
ually meddling, daring, subtle, active, of litigious disposi- 
tions and unquiet minds, would easily fall back into their 
old condition of obscure contention, and laborious, low, 
and unprofitable chicane? Who could doubt but that, at 
any expense to the state, of which they understood nothing, 
they must pursue their private interests which they under- 
stood but too well? It was not an event depending on 
chance, or contingency. It was inevitable; it was neces- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 41 

sary^it was planted in the nature of things. They must 
join (if their capacity did not permit them to lead) in any 
project which could procure to them a litigious constitu- 
tion; which could lay open to them those innumerable 
lucrative jobs, which follow In the train of all great con- 
vulsions and revolutions in the state, and particularly in 
all great and violent permutations of property. Was it 
to be expected that they would attend to the stability of 
property, whose existence had always depended upon 
whatever rendered property questionable, ambiguous, and 
insecure? Their objects would be enlarged with their 
elevation, but their disposition and habits, and mode of 
accomplishing their designs, must remain the same. 

Well ! but these men were to be tempered and restrained 
by other descriptions, of more sober and more enlarged 
understandings. Were they then to be awed by the stiper- 
eniinent authority and awful dignity of a handful of country 
clowns, who have seats in that Assembly, some of whom 
are said not to be able to read and write? and by not a 
greater number of traders, who, though somewhat more 
instructed, and more conspicuous in the order of society, 
had never known anything beyond their counting-house. 
No ! both these descriptions were more formed to be over- 
borne and swayed by the intrigues and artifices of lawyers, 
than to become their counterpoise. With such a danger- 
ous disproportion, the whole must needs be governec by 
them. To the faculty of law was joined a pretty consider- 
able proportion of the faculty of medicine. This faculty 
had not, any more than that of the law, possessed in France 
its just estimation. Its professors , therefore, must have 
the qualities of men not habituated to sentiments of 
dignity. But supposing they had ranked as they outfit 
to do, and as with us they do actual!}-, the sides of sick 
beds are not the academies for forming statesmen and 
legislators. Then came the dealers in stocks and funds, 
who must be eager, at any expense, to change their ideal 
paper wealth for the more solid substance of land. To 
these were joined men of other descriptions, from whom 
as little knowledge of, or attention to, the interests of a 
great state was to be expected, and as little regard to the 
stability of any institution ; men formed to be instruments, 
not controls. Such in general w*s the composition of the 



42 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Tiers Etat in the National Assembly; in which was 
scarcely to be perceived the slightest traces of what we call 
the natural landed interest of the country. 

We know that the British House of Commons, without 
shutting its doors to any merit in any class, is, by the sure 
operation of adequate causes, filled with everything illustri- 
ous in rank, in descent, in hereditary and in acquired 
opulence, in cultivated talents, in military, civil, naval, and 
politic distinction, that the country can afford. But sup- 
posing, what hardly can be supposed as a case, that the 
House of Commons should be composed in the same 
manner with the Tiers Etat in France, would this dominion 
of chicane be borne with patience, or even conceived with- 
out horror? God forbid I should insinuate anything 
derogatory to that profession, which is another priesthood, 
administrating the rights of sacred justice. But whilst I 
re\ere men in the functions which belong to them, and 
would do as much as one man can do to prevent their exclu- 
sion from any, I cannot, to flatter them, give the lie to 
nature. They are good and useful in the composition ; 
they must be mischievous if they preponderate so as 
virtually to become the whole. Their very excellence in 
their peculiar functions may be far from a qualification for 
others. It cannot escape observation, that when men are 
too much confined to professional and faculty habits, and as 
it were inveterate in the recurrent employment of that nar- 
row circle, they are rather disabled than qualified for what- 
ever depends on the knowledge of mankind, on experience 
in mixed affairs, on a comprehensive, connected view of the 
various, complicated, external and internal interests, which 
go to the formation of that multifarious thing called a state. 

After all, if the House of Commons were to have a wholly 
professional and faculty composition, what is the power of 
the House of Commons, circumscribed and shut in by the 
immovable barriers of laws, usages, positive rules of doc- 
trine and practice, counterpoised by the House of Lords, 
and every moment of its existence at the discretion of the 
crown to continue, prorogue, or dissolve us? The power 
of the House of Commons, direct or indirect, is indeed 
great; and long may it be able to preserve its greatness, 
and the spirit belonging to true greatness, at the full; 
and it will do so, as long as it can keep the breakers of law 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 43 

in India from becoming the makers of law for England. 
The power, however, of the House of Commons, when 
least diminished, is as a drop of water in the ocean, com- 
pared to that residing in a settled majority of your National 
Assembly. That Assembly, since the destruction of the 
orders, has no fundamental law, no strict convention, no 
respected usage to restrain it. Instead of finding them- 
selves obliged to conform to a fixed constitution, they have 
a power to make a constitution which shall conform to 
their designs. Nothing in heaven or upon earth can serve 
as a control on them. What ought to be the heads, the 
hearts, the dispositions, that are qualified, or that dare, not 
only to make laws under a fixed constitution, but at one 
heat to strike out a totally new constitution for a great 
kingdom, and in every part of it, from the monarch on 
the throne to the vestry of a parish? But "fools rush 
in where angels fear to tread." In such a state of un- 
bounded power for undefined and undefinable purposes, the 
evil of a moral and almost physical inaptitude of the man 
to the function must be the greatest we can conceive to 
happen in the management of human affairs. 

Having considered the composition of the third estate 
as it stood in its original frame, I took a view of the repre- 
sentatives of the clergy. There too it appeared, that full 
as little regard was had to the general security of property, 
or to the aptitude of the deputies for their public purposes, 
in the principles of their election. That election was so 
contrived, as to send a very large proportion of mere 
country curates to the great and arduous work of new- 
modelling a state; men who never had seen the state so 
much as in a picture ; men who knew nothing of the world 
beyond the bounds of an obscure village; who, Immersed 
in hopeless poverty, could regard all property, whether 
secular or ecclesiastical, with no other eye than that of 
envy; among whom must be many who, for the smallest 
hope of the meanest dividend in plunder, would readily 
join in any attempts upon a body of wealth, in which they 
could hardly look to have any share, except in a general 
scramble. Instead of balancing the power of the active 
chicaners in the other assembly, these curates must neces- 
sarily become the active coadjutors, or at best the passive 
instruments, of those by whom they had been habitually 



44 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

guided in their petty village concerns. They too could 
hardly be the most conscientious of their kind, who, pre- 
suming- upon their incompetent understanding-, could 
intrigue for a trust which led them from their natural rela- 
tion to their flocks, and their natural spheres of action, to 
undertake the regeneration of kingdoms. This prepon- 
derating weight, being added to the force of the body of 
chicane in the Tiers Etat, completed that momentum of 
ignorance, rashness, presumption, and lust of plunder, 
which nothing has been able to resist. 

To observing men it must have appeared from the begin- 
ning, that the majority of the Third Estate, in conjunction 
with such a deputation from the clergy as I have described, 
whilst it pursued the destruction of the nobility, would 
inevitably become subservient to the worst designs of in- 
dividuals in that class. In the spoil and humiliation of 
their own order these individuals would possess a sure 
fund for the pay of their new followers. To squander 
away the objects which made the happiness of their fellowsj 
would be to them no sacrifice at all. Turbulent, discon- 
tented men of quality, in proportion as they are puffed up 
with personal pride and arrogance, generally despise their 
own order. One of the first symptoms they discover of a 
selfish and mischievous ambition, is a profligate disregard of 
a dignity which they partake with others. To be attached 
to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to 
in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of 
public affections. It is the first link in the series by which 
we proceed towards a love to our country, and to man- 
kind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement 
is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it ; and as 
none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but 
traitors would barter it away for t^ieir own personal 
advantage. 

There were in the time of our civil troubles in England 
(I do not know whether you have any such in your 
Assembly in France), several persons like the then Earl 
of Holland, who by themselves or their families had 
brought an odium on the throne, by the prodigal dispensa- 
tion of its bounties towards them, who afterwards joined 
in the rebellions arising from the discontents of which 
they were themselves the cause; men who helped to sub- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 45 

vert that throne to which they owed, some of them, their 
existence, others all that power which they employed to 
ruin their benefactor. If any bounds are set to the rapaci- 
ous demands of that sort of people, or that others are 
permitted to partake in the objects they would engross, 
revenge and envy soon fill up the craving" void that is left 
in their avarice. Confounded by the complication of dis- 
tempered passions, their reason is disturbed ; their views 
become vast and perplexed ; to others inexplicable ; to 
themselves uncertain. They End, on all sides, bounds to 
their unprincipled ambition in any fixed order of things. 
But in the fog and haze of confusion all is enlarged, and 
appears without any limit. 

When men of rank sacrifice all ideas of dignity to an 
ambition without a distinct object, and work with low in- 
struments and for low ends, the whole composition be- 
comes low and base. Does not something like this now 
appear in France? Does it not produce something ignoble 
and inglorious? a kind of meanness in all the prevalent 
policy? a tendency in all that is done to lower along with 
individuals all the dignity and importance of the state? 
Other revolutions have been conducted by persons, who, 
whilst they attempted or affected changes in the common- 
wealth, sanctified their ambition by advancing the dignity 
of the people whose peace they troubled. They had long 
views. They aimed at the rule, not at the destruction, 
of their country. They were men of great civil and great 
military talents, and if the terror, the ornament of their 
age. They were not like Jew brokers, contending with 
each other who could best remedy with fraudulent circula- 
tion and depreciated paper the wretchedness and ruin 
brought on their country by their degenerate councils. 
The compliment made to one of the great bad men of the 
old stamp (Cromwell) by his kinsman, a favourite poet of 
that time, shows what it was he proposed, and what indeed 
to a great degree he accomplished, in the success of his 
ambition : 

** Still as you rise, the state exalted too, 

Finds no distemper whilst 'tis changed by you ; 
Changed like the world's great scene, when without noise 
The rising sun night's vulgar lights destroys." 

These disturbers were not so much like men usurping 



46 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

power, as asserting their natural place in society. Tbeii 
rising was to illuminate and beautify the world. Their 
conquest over their competitors was by outshining them. 
The hand that, like a destroying angel, smote the country, 
communicated to it the force and energy under which it 
suffered. I do not say (God forbid), I do not say, that 
the virtues of such men were to be taken as a balance 
to their crimes : but they were some corrective to their 
effects. Such was, as I said, our Cromwell. Such were 
your whole race of Guises, Condes, and Colignis. Such 
the Richelieus, who in more quiet times acted in the spirit 
of a civil war. Such, as better men, and in a less dubious 
cause, were your Henry the Fourth and your Sully, though 
nursed in civil confusions, and not wholly without some 
of their taint. It is a thing to be wondered at, to see 
how very soon France, when she had a moment to respire, 
recovered and emerged from the longest and most dreadful 
civil war that ever was known in any nation. Why? 
Because among all their massacres, they had not slain the 
mind in their country. A conscious dignity, a noble 
pride, a generous sense of glory and emulation, was not 
extinguished. On the contrary, it was kindled and in- 
flamed. The organs also of the state, however shattered, 
existed. All the prizes of honour and virtue, all the 
rewards, all the distinctions remained. But your present 
confusion, like a palsy, has attacked the fountain of life 
itself. Every person in your country, in a situation to be 
actuated by a principle of honour, is disgraced and de- 
graded, and can entertain no sensation of life, except in 
a mortified and humiliated indignatidn. But this genera- 
tion will quickly pass away. The next generation of the 
nobility will resemble the artificers and clowns, and money- 
jobbers, usurers, and Jews, who will be always their 
fellows, sometimes their masters. Believe me, Sir, those 
who attempt to level, never equalise. In all societies, 
consisting of various descriptions of citizens, some descrip- 
tion must be uppermost. The levellers therefore only 
change and pervert the natural order of things ; they load 
the edifice of society, by setting up in the air what the 
solidity of the structure requires to be on the ground. 
The associations of tailors and carpenters, of which the 
republic (of Paris, for instance) is composed, cannot be 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 47 

equal to the situation, into which, by the worst of usurpa- 
tions, an usurpation on the prerogatives of nature, you 
attempt to force them. 

The Chancellor of France at the opening of the States, 
said, in a tone of oratorical flourish, that all occupations 
were honourable. If he meant only, that no honest em- 
ployment was disgraceful, he would not have gone beyond 
the truth. But in asserting that anything is honourable, 
we imply some distinction in its favour. The occupation 
of a hair-dresser, or of a working tallow-chandler, cannot 
be a matter of honour to any person to say nothing of a 
number of other more servile employments. Such descrip- 
tions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the 
state; but the state suffers oppression, if such as they, 
either individually or collectively, are permitted to rule. 
In this you* think you are combating prejudice, but you are 
at war with nature. 1 

I do not, my dear Sir, conceive you to be of that sophis- 
tical, captious spirit, or of that uncandid dulness, as to 
require, for every general observation or sentiment, an 
explicit detail of the correctives and exceptions, which 
reason will presume to be included in all the general pro- 
positions which come from reasonable men. You do not 
imagine, that I wish to confine power, authority, and 
distinction to blood, and names, and titles. No, .Sir. 
There is no qualification for government but virtue and 
wisdom, actual or presumptive. Wherever they are actu- 
ally found, they have, in whatever state, condition, profes- 
sion or trade, the passport of Heaven to human place and 

l Ecclesiasticus, chap- xxxviii. verses 24, 25. "The wisdom of a 
learned man oometh by opportunity of leisure : and he that hath little 
business shall become wise." " How can he get wisdom that holdeth 
the plough, and that glorieth in the goad ; that driveth oxen ; and is 
occupied in their labours ; and whose talk is of bullocks ? " 

Ver. 27. "So every carpenter and work-master that laboureth night 
and day," etc. 

Ver. 33. They shall not be sought for in public counsel, nor sit high 
in the congregation : they shall not sit on the judge's seat, nor under- 
stand the sentence of judgment ; they cannot declare justice and judg- 
ment, and they shall not be found where parables are spoken." 

Ver. 34. "But they will maintain the state of the world.*' 

I do not determine whether this book be canonical, as the Gallican 
church (till lately) has considered it, or apocryphal, as here it is taken. 
I am sure it contains a great deal of sense and truth. 



48 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

honour. Woe to the country which would madly and 
impiously reject the service of the talents and- virtues, 
civil, military, or religious, that are given to grace and to 
serve it; and would condemn to obscurity everything 
formed to diffuse lustre and glory around a state ! Woe 
to that country too, that, passing into the opposite 
extreme, considers SL low education, a mean contracted 
view of things, a sordid, mercenary occupation, as a pre- 
ferable title to command ! Everything ought to be open ; 
but not indifferently to every man. No rotation ; no 
appointment by lot; no mode of election operating In the 
spirit of sortition, or rotation, can be generally good in a 
government conversant in extensive objects. Because they 
have no tendency, direct or indirect, to select the man 
with a view to the duty, or to accommodate the one to the 
other. I do not hesitate to say, that the road to eminence 
and power from obscure condition, ought not to be made 
too easy, nor a thing too much of course. If rare merit 
be the rarest of all rare things, It ought to pass through 
some sort of probation. The temple of honour ought to 
be seated on an eminence. If it be opened through virtue, 
let it be remembered too, that virtue is never tried but by 
some difficulty and some struggle. 

Nothing is a due and adequate representation of a state, 
that does not represent its ability, as well as its property. 
But as ability Is a vigorous and active principle, and as 
property Is sluggish, inert, and timid, it never can be safe 
from the Invasions of ability, unless it be, out of all pro- 
portion, predominant In the representation. It must be 
represented too in great masses of accumulation, or it is 
not rightly protected. The characteristic essence of pro- 
perty, formed out of the combined principles of Its acquisi- 
tion and conservation, Is to be unequal. The great masses 
therefore which excite envy, and tempt rapacity, must be 
put out of the possibility of danger. Then they form a 
natural rampart about the lesser properties In all their 
gradations. The same quantity of property, which is by 
the natural course of things divided among many, has not 
the same operation. Its defensive power Is weakened as 
It is diffused. In this diffusion each man's portion is less 
than what, In the eagerness of his desires, he may flatter 
himself to obtain by dissipating the accumulations of 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 49 

others. The plunder of the few would Indeed give but a 
share Inconceivably small in the distribution to the many. 
But the many are not capable of making this calculation ; 
and those who lead them to rapine never Intend this 
distribution. 

The power of perpetuating our property in our families 
Is one of the most valuable and interesting circumstances 
belonging to it, and that which tends the most to the per- 
petuation of society itself. It makes our weakness 
subservient to our virtue ; It grafts benevolence even upon 
avarice^ The $ possessors of family wealth, and of the 
distinction which attends hereditary possession (as most 
concerned in it), are the natural securities for this transmis- 
sion. ^ With us the House of Peers is formed upon this 
principle. ^ It is wholly composed of hereditary property 
and hereditary distinction; and made therefore the third 
of the legislature; and, in the last event, the sole judge of 
all property in all its subdivisions. The House of Com- 
mons too, though not necessarily, yet in fact, Is always 
so composed, in the far greater part. Let those large 
proprietors be what they will, and they have their chance 
of being amongst the best, they are, at the very worst, 
the ballast in the vessel of the commonwealth. For though 
hereditary wealth, and the rank which goes with it, are 
too much idolized by creeping sycophants, and the blind, 
abject admirers of power, they are too rashly slighted in 
shallow speculations of the petulant, assuming, short- 
sighted coxcombs of philosophy. Some decent, regulated 
pre-eminence, some preference (not exclusive appropria- 
tion) given to birth, is neither unnatural, nor unjust, nor 
Impolitic. 

It is said, that twenty-four millions ought to prevail over 
two hundred thousand. True; if the constitution of a 
kingdom be a problem of arithmetic. This sort of dis- 
course does well enough with the lamp-post for its second : 
to men who may reason calmly, it is ridiculous. The will 
of the many and their interest must very often differ; and 
great will be the difference when they make an evil choice, 
A government of five hundred country attorney sand obscure 
curates is not good for twenty-four millions of men, though 
It were chosen by eight-and-forty millions; nor is it the 
better for being guided by a dozen of persons of quality,. 

C4<x> 



50 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

who have betrayed their trust in order to obtain that power. 
At present, you seem in everything to have strayed out of 
the high road of nature. The property of France does not 
govern it. Of course property is destroyed, and rational 
liberty has no existence. All you have got for the present 
is a paper circulation and a stock-jobbing- constitution : 
and, as to the future, do you seriously think that the terri- 
tory of France, upon the republican system of eighty-three 
independent municipalities (to say nothing of the parts 
that compose them), can ever be governed as one body, 
or can ever be set in motion by the impulse of one mind? 
When the National Assembly has completed its work, it 
will have accomplished its ruin. These commonwealths 
will not long bear a state of subjection to the republic of 
Paris. They will not bear that this one body should mono- 
polize the captivity of the king, and the dominion over the 
Assembly calling itself national. Each will keep its own 
portion of the spoil of the church to itself ; and it will not 
suffer either that spoil, or the more just fruits of their in- 
dustry, or the natural produce of their soil, to be sent to 
swell the insolence, or pamper the luxury, of the mechanics 
of Paris. In this they will see none of the equality, under 
the pretence of which they have been tempted to throw 
off their allegiance to their sovereign, as well as the ancient 
constitution of their country. There can be no capital city 
in such a constitution as they have lately made. They 
have forgot, that when they framed democratic govern- 
ments, they had virtually dismembered their country. The 
person, whom they persevere in calling king, has not power 
left to him by the hundredth part sufficient to hold together 
this collection of republics. The republic of Paris will 
endeavour indeed to complete the debauchery of the army, 
and illegally to perpetuate the Assembly, without resort to 
its constituents, as the means of continuing its despotism. 
It will make efforts, by becoming the heart of a boundless 
paper circulation, to draw everything to itself ; but in vain. 
All this policy in the end will appear as feeble as it is now 
violent. 

If this be your actual situation, compared to the situa- 
tion to which you were called, as it were by the voice of 
God and man, I cannot find it in my heart to congratulate 
you on the choice you have made, or the success which has 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 51 

attended your^ endeavours. I can as little recommend to 
any other nation a conduct grounded on such principles, 
and productive of such effects. That I must leave to those 
who can see farther into your affairs than I am able to do, 
and who best know how far your actions are favourable to 
their designs. The gentlemen of the Revolution Society, 
who were so early in their congratulations, appear to be 
strongly of opinion that there is some scheme of politics 
relative to this country, in which your proceedings may, in 
some way, be useful. For your Dr. Price, who seems to 
have speculated himself into no small degree of fervour 
upon this subject, addresses his auditory in the following 
very remarkable words : " I cannot conclude without recall- 
ing particularly to your recollection a consideration which 
I have more than once alluded to, and which probably your 
thpughts have been all along anticipating; a consideration 
with which my mind is impressed more than I can express. 
I mean the consideration of the favourableness of the 
present times to all exertions in the cause of liberty." 

It is plain that^the mind of this political preacher was 
at the time big with some extraordinary design ; and it is 
very probable that the thoughts of hs audience, who under- 
stood him better than I do, did all along- run before him 
in his reflection, and in the whole train of consequences to 
which it led. 

Before I read that sermon, I really thought I had lived 
in a free country ; and it was an error I cherished, because 
it gave me a greater liking to the country I lived in. I was 
indeed aware, that a jealous, ever-waking vigilance, to 
guard the treasure of our liberty, not only from invasion, 
but from decay and corruption, was our best wisdom, and 
our first duty. However, I considered that treasure rather 
as a possession to be secured, than as a prize to be con- 
tended for. I did not discern how the present time came 
to be so very favourable to all exertions in the cause of 
freedom. The present time differs from any other only by 
the circumstance of what is doing in France. If the 
example of that nation is to have an influence on this, I can 
easily conceive why some of their proceedings which have 
an unpleasant aspect, and are not quite reconcilable to 
humanity, generosity, good faith, and justice, are palliated 
with so much milky good-nature towards the actors, and 



52 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

borne with so much heroic fortitude towards the sufferers. 
It is certainly not prudent to discredit the authority of an 
example we mean to follow. But allowing this, we are 
led to a very natural question : What is that cause of 
liberty, and what are those exertions in its favour, to which 
the example of France is so singularly auspicious? Is our 
monarchy to be annihilated, with all the laws, all the 
tribunals, and all the ancient corporations of the kingdom? 
Is every land-mark of the country to be done away in 
favour of a geometrical and arithmetical constitution? Is 
the House of Lords to be voted useless? Is episcopacy to 
be abolished? Are the church lands to be sold to Jews 
and jobbers; or given to bribe new-invented municipal 
republics into a participation in sacrilege? Are all the 
taxes to be voted grievances, and the revenue reduced to a 
patriotic contribution, or patriotic presents? Are silver 
shoe-buckles to be substituted in the place of the land tax 
and the malt tax, for the support of the naval strength of 
this kingdom? Are all orders, ranks, and distinctions to 
be confounded, that out of universal anarchy, joined to 
national bankruptcy, three or four thousand democracies 
should be formed into eighty-three, and that they may all, 
by some sort of unknown attractive power, be organized 
into one? For this great end is the army to be seduced 
from its discipline and its fidelity, first by every kind of 
debauchery, and then by the terrible precedent of a dona- 
tive in the increase of pay? Are the curates to be seduced 
from their bishops, by holding out to them the delusive 
hope of a dole out of the spoils of their own order? Are 
the citizens of London to be drawn from their allegiance 
by feeding them at the expense of their fellow-subjects? 
Is a compulsory paper currency to be substituted in the 
place of the legal coin of this kingdom? Is what remains 
of the plundered stock of public revenue to be employed in 
the wild project of maintaining two armies to watch over 
and to fight with each other? If these are the ends and 
means of the Revolution Society, I admit they are well 
assorted; and France may furnish them for both with 
precedents in point. 

I see that your example is held out to shame us. I know 
that we are supposed a dull, sluggish race, rendered pas- 
sive by finding our situation tolerable, and prevented by a 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 53 

mediocrity of freedom from ever attaining to its full per- 
fection. Your leaders in France began by affecting to 
admire, almost to adore, the British constitution; but as 
they advanced, they came to look upon it with a sovereign 
contempt. The friends of your National Assembly 
amongst us have full as mean an opinion of what was 
f prmerly thought the glory of their country. The Revolu- 
tion Society has discovered that the English nation is not 
free, ^They are convinced that the Inequality in our repre- 
sentation is a "defect in our constitution so gross and 
palpable, as to make it excellent chiefly in form and 
theory."! That a representation in the legislature of a 
kingdom is not only the basis of all constitutional liberty 
In it, but of "all legitimate government; that without it a 
government is nothing but an usurpation;" that "when 
the representation is partial, the kingdom possesses liberty 
only partially; and if extremely partial, It gives only a 
semblance; and if not only extremely partial, but cor- 
ruptly chosen, it becomes a nuisance. 9 ' Dr. Price con- 
siders this inadequacy of representation as our fundamental 
grievance; and though, as to the corruption of this 
semblance of representation, he hopes it is not yet arrived 
to Its full perfection of depravity, he fears that "nothing 
win be done towards gaining for us this essential blessing, 
until some great abuse of power again provokes our resent- 
ment, or some great calamity again alarms our fears, or 
perhaps till the acquisition of a pure and equal representa- 
tion by other countries, whilst we are mocked with the 
shadoiv, kindles our shame." To this he subjoins a note 
in these words : " A representation chosen chiefly by the 
treasury, and a few thousands of the dregs of the people, 
who are generally paid for their votes." 

You will smile here at the consistency of those democra- 
tists, who, when they are not on their guard, treat t*e 
humbler part of the community with the greatest cont^P^ 
whilst, at the same time, they pretend to make t^ m the 
depositories of all power. It would require z lOn ? ^is- 
course to point out to you the many fallacies tf . ur *5 * n the 
generality and equivocal nature of the tertf f nac *equate 
representation." I shall only say here, ^ ! ce to that 
old-fashioned constitution, under wb : " Aave 

1 Discourse on the Love of our Conn " "" 39* 



54 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

prospered, that our representation has been found perfectly 
adequate to all the purposes for which a representation of 
the people can be desired or devised. I defy the enemies 
of our constitution to show the contrary. To detail the 
particulars in which it is found so well to promote its ends, 
would demand a treatise on our practical constitution. I 
state here the doctrine of the Revolutionists, only that you 
and others may see what an opinion these gentlemen enter- 
tain of the constitution of their country, and why they seem 
to think that some great abuse of power, or some great 
calamity, as giving a chance for the blessing of a con- 
stitution according to their ideas, would be much palliated 
to their feelings ; you see isjhy they are so much enamoured 
of your fair and equal representation, which being once 
obtained, the same effects might follow. You see they 
consider our House of Commons as only "a semblance/' 
"a form/' "a theory," "a shadow," "a mockery," perhaps 
"a nuisance." 

These gentlemen value themselves on being systematic ; 
and not without reason. They must therefore look on this 
gross and palpable defect of representation, this funda- 
mental grievance (so they call it), as a thing not only 
vicious in itself, but as rendering our whole government 
absolutely illegitimate , and not at all better than a down- 
right usurpation. Another revolution, to get rid of this 
illegitimate and usurped government, would of course be 
perfectly justifiable, if not absolutely necessary. Indeed 
their principle, if you observe it with any attention, goes 
much further than to an alteration in the election of the 
House of Commons; for, if popular representation, or 
choice, is necessary to the legitimacy of all government, 
the House of Lords is, at one stroke, bastardized and 
corrupted in blood. That house is no representative of 
fee people at all, even in "semblance or in form." The 
cas^of the crown is altogether as bad. In vain the crown 
may Wieavour to screen itself against these gentlemen by 
the autHbrity of the establishment made on the Revolution. 
The Reversion which is resorted to for a title, on their 
system, wants a title itself. The Revolution is built, 
according to tn^r theory, upon a basis not more solid than 
our present forn^lities, as it was made by a House of 
Lords, not representing any one but themselves ; and by 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 55 

a House of Commons exactly such as the present, that is, 
as they term it, by a mere " shadow and mockery " of 
representation. 

Something- they must destroy, or they seem to them- 
selves to exist for no purpose. One set is for destroying 
the civil power through the ecclesiastical; another, for 
demolishing the ecclesiastic through the civil. They are 
aware that the worst consequences might happen to the 
public in accomplishing this double ruin of church and 
state ; but they are so heated with their theories, that they 
give more than hints, that this ruin, with all the mischiefs 
that must lead to it and attend it, and which to themselves 
appear quite certain, would not be unacceptable to them, 
or very remote from their wishes. A man amongst them 
of great authority, and certainly of great talents, speaking 
of a supposed alliance between church and state, says, 
"perhaps we must wait for the fall of the civil powers 
before this most unnatural alliance be broken. Calamitous 
no doubt will that time be. But what convulsion in the 
political world ought to be a subject of lamentation, if it 
be attended with so desirable an effect? " You see with 
what a steady eye these gentlemen are prepared to view 
the greatest calamities which can befall their country. 

It is no wonder therefore, that with these ideas of every- 
thing in their constitution and government at home, either 
in church or state, as illegitimate and usurped, or at best 
as a vain mockery, they look abroad with an eager and 
passionate enthusiasm. Whilst they are possessed by these 
notions, it is vain to talk to them of the practice of their 
ancestors, the fundamental laws of their country, the fixed 
form of a constitution, whose merits are confirmed by the 
solid test of long experience, and an increasing public 
strength and national prosperity. They despise experience 
as the wisdom of unlettered men ; and as for the rest, they 
have wrought under ground a mine that will blow up, at 
one grand explosion, all examples of antiquity, all prece- 
dents, charters, and acts of parliament. They have "the 
rights of men." Against these there can be no prescrip- 
tion ; against these no agreement is binding : these^ admit 
no temperament and no compromise : anything ^withheld 
from their full demand is so much of fraud and injustice. 
Against these their rights of men let no government look 



56 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

for security in the length of its continuance, or in the 
justice and lenity of its administration. The objections 
of these speculatists, if its forms do not quadrate with 
their theories, are as valid against such an old and benefi- 
cent government, as against the most violent tyranny, or 
the greenest usurpation. They are always at issue with 
governments, not on a question of abuse, but a question 
of competency, and a question of title. I have nothing 
to say to the clumsy subtilty of their political metaphysics. 
Let them be their amusement in the schools. " Ilia se 
jactat in aula JEolus^ et clauso ventorum career e regnet." 
But let them not break prison to burst like a Levanter, 
to sweep the earth with their hurricane, and to break up 
the fountains of the great deep to overwhelm us. 

Far am I from denying in theory, full as far is my heart 
from withholding in practice (if I were of power to give or 
to withhold), the real rights of men. In denying their 
false claims of right, I do not mean to injure those which 
are real, and are such as their pretended rights would 
totally destroy. If civil society be made for the advantage 
of man, all the advantages for which it is made become 
his right. It is an institution of beneficence; and law 
itself is only beneficence acting by a rule. Men have a 
right to live by that rule ; they have a right to do justice, as 
between their fellows, whether their fellows are in public 
function or in ordinary occupation. They have a right to 
the fruits of their industry; and to the means of making 
their industry fruitful, lliey have a right to the acquisi- 
tions of their parents; to the nourishment and improve- 
ment of their offspring ; to instruction in life, and to con- 
solation in death. Whatever each man can separately 
do, without trespassing upon others, he has a right to do 
for himself ; and he has a right to a fair portion of all 
which society, with all its combinations of skill and force, 
can do in his favour. In this partnership all men have 
equal rights ; but not to equal things. He that has but 
nve shillings in the partnership, has as good a right to 
it, as he that has five hundred pounds has to his larger 
proportion. But he has not a right to an equal dividend 
in the product of the joint stock; and as to the share of 
power, authority, and direction which each individual 
ought to hav<b4n the management of the state, that I must 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 57 

deny to be amongst the direct original rights of man In 
civil society; for I have in my contemplation the civil 
social man, and no other. It is a thing- to be settled by 
convention. 

If^civil society ^be the offspring of convention, that con- 
vention must be its law. That convention must limit and 
modify all the descriptions of constitution which are formed 
under it. Every sort of legislative, judicial, or executory 
power are its creatures. They can have no being in any 
other state of things; and how can any man claim under 
the conventions of civil society, rights which do not so 
much as suppose its existence? rights which are abolutely 
repugnant to it? One of the first motives to civil society, 
and which becomes one of its fundamental rules, is, that 
no man should be judge in his own cause. By this each 
person has at once divested himself of the first fundamental 
right of uncovenanted man, that is, to judge for himself, 
and ^to assert his own cause. He abdicates all right to 
be his own governor. He inclusively, in a great measure, 
abandons the right of self-defence, the first law of nature. 
Men cannot enjoy the rights of an uncivil and of a civil 
state ^together. That he may obtain justice, he gives up 
his right of determining what it is in points the most 
essential to him. That he may secure some liberty, he 
makes a surrender in trust of the whole of it. 

/Government is not made in virtue of natural rights, 
wMch may and do exist in total independence of it; and 
exist in much greater clearness, and in a much greater 
degree of abstract perfection ; but their abstract perfection 
is their practical defect. By having- a right to everything 
they want everything. Government is a contrivance of 
human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a 
right that these wants should be provided for by this 
wisdom. Among these wants is to be reckoned the want, 
out of civil society, of a sufficient restraint upon their 
passions. Society requires not only that the passions of 
individuals should be subjected, but that even in the mass 
and body, as well as in the individuals, the inclinations of 
men should frequently be thwarted, their will controlled, 
and their passions brought into subjection. This can only 
be done by a power out of themselves; and not, in the 
exercise of its function, subject to that will and to those 



58 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

passions which it is its office to bridle and subdue. In 
this sense the restraints on men, as well as their liberties, 
are to be reckoned among- their rights. But as the liberties 
and the restrictions vary with times and circumstances, 
and admit of infinite modifications, they cannot be settled 
upon any abstract rule; and nothing is so foolish as to 
discuss them upon that principle. 

The moment you abate anything from the full rights of 
men, each to govern himself, and suffer any artificial, 
positive limitation upon those rights, from that moment 
the whole organization of government becomes a con- 
sideration of convenience. This it is which makes the 
constitution of a state, and the due distribution of its 
powers, a matter of the most delicate and complicated 
skill. It requires a deep knowledge of human nature and 
human necessities, and of the things which facilitate or 
obstruct the various ends, which are to be pursued by the 
mechanism of civil institutions. The state is to have 
recruits to its strength, and remedies to its distempers. 
What is the use of discussing a man's abstract right to 
food or medicine? The question is upon the method of 
procuring and administering them. In that deliberation 
I shall always advise to call in the aid of the farmer and 
the physician, rather than the professor of metaphysics. 

The science of constructing a commonwealth, or renovat- 
ing it, or reforming it, is, like every other experimental 
science, not to be taught h priori. Nor is it a short experi- 
ence that can instruct us in that practical science; because 
the real effects of moral causes are not always immediate ; 
but that which in the first instance is prejudicial may be 
excellent in its remoter operation; and its excellence may 
arise even from the ill effects it produces in the beginning. 
The reverse also happens : and very plausible schemes, 
with very pleasing commencements, have often shameful 
and lamentable conclusions. In states there are often 
some obscure and almost latent causes, things which 
appear at first view of little moment, on which a very great 
part of its prosperity or adversity may most essentially 
depend. The science of government being therefore so 
practical in itself, and intended for such practical purposes, 
a matter which requires experience, and even more experi- 
ence than any person can gain in his whole life, however 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 59 

sagacious and observing he may be, It Is with infinite 
caution that any man ought to venture upon pulling down 
an edifice, which has answered in any tolerable degree for 
ages the common purposes of society, or on building it 
up again, without having models and patterns of approved 
utility before his eyes. 

These metaphysic rights entering into common life, like 
rays of light which pierce into a dense medium, are, by 
the laws of nature, refracted from their straight line. 
Indeed in the gross and complicated mass of human pas- 
sions and concerns, the primitive rights of men undergo 
such a variety of refractions and reflections, that it becomes 
absurd to talk of them as if they continued in the sim- 
plicity of their original direction. The nature of man is 
intricate ; the objects of society are of the greatest possible 
complexity : and therefore no simple disposition or direc- 
tion of power can be suitable either to man's nature, or to 
the quality of his affairs. When I hear the simplicity of 
contrivance aimed at and boasted of in any new political 
constitutions, I am at no loss to decide that the artificers 
are grossly ignorant of their trade, or totally negligent 
of their duty. The simple governments are fundamentally 
defective, to say no worse of them. If you were to con- 
template society in but one point of view, all these simple 
modes of polity are infinitely captivating. In effect each 
would answer its single end much more perfectly than the 
more complex is able to attain all its complex purposes. 
But it is better that the whole should be imperfectly and 
anomalously answered, than that, while some parts are 
provided for with great exactness, others might be totally 
neglected, or perhaps materially injured, by the overcare 
of a favourite member. 

The pretended rights of these theorists are all extremes : 
and in proportion as they are metaphysically true, they are 
morally and politically false. The rights of men are in a 
sort of middle, incapable of definition, but not impossible 
to be discerned. The rights of men in governments are 
their advantages ; and these are often in balances between 
differences of good; in compromises sometimes between 
good and evil, and sometimes between evil and evil. 
Political reason is a computing principle; adding, sub- 
tracting, multiplying, and dividing, morally and not 



6o REFLECTIONS ON THE 

metaphysically, or mathematically, true moral de- 
nominations. 

By these theorists the right of the people is almost 
always sophistically confounded with their power. The 
body of the community, whenever it can come to act, can 
meet with no effectual resistance ; but till power and right 
are the same, the whole body of them has no right incon- 
sistent with virtue, and the first of all virtues, prudence. 
Men have no right to what is not reasonable, and to what 
is not for their benefit; for though a pleasant writer said, 
Liceat perire poetis, when one of them, in cold blood, is 
said to have leaped into the flames of a volcanic revolu- 
tion, Ardentem frigidus JEtnam insiluit, I consider such a 
frolic rather as an unjustifiable poetic licence, than as one 
of the franchises of Parnassus ; and whether he were poet, 
or divine, or politician, that chose to exercise this kind of 
right, I think that more wise, because more charitable, 
thoughts would urge me rather to save the man, than to 
preserve his brazen slippers as the monuments of his folly. 

The kind of anniversary sermons to which a great part 
of what I write refers, if men are not shamed out of their 
present course, in commemorating the fact, will cheat 
many out of the principles, and deprive them of the bene- 
fits, of the revolution they commemorate. I confess to 
you, Sir, I never liked this continual talk of resistance, 
and revolution, or the practice of making the extreme 
medicine of the constitution its daily bread. It renders the 
habit of society dangerously valetudinary ; it is taking- 
periodical doses of mercury sublimate, and swallowing 
down repeated provocatives of cantharides to our love of 
liberty. 

This distemper of remedy, grown habitual, relaxes and 
wears out, by a vulgar and prostituted use, the spring of 
that spirit which is to be exerted on great occasions. It 
was in the most patient period of Roman servitude that 
themes of tyrannicide made the ordinary exercise of boys 
at school cunt pertmtt s&vos classis numerosa tyrannos. 
In the ordinary state of things, it produces in a country 
like ours the worst effects, even on the cause of that liberty 
which it abuses with the dissoluteness of an extravagant 
speculation. Almost all the high-bred republicans of my 
time have, after a short space, become the most decided, 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 61 

thorough-paced courtiers; they soon left the business of 
a tedious, moderate, but practical resistance, to those of 
us whom, in the pride and intoxication of their theories, 
they have slighted as not much better than Tories. 
Hypocrisy, of course, delights in the most sublime specu- 
lations ; for, never intending to go beyond speculation, it 
costs nothing to have it magnificent. But even in cases 
where rather levity than fraud was to be suspected in these 
ranting speculations, the issue has been much the same. 
These professors, finding their extreme principles not 
applicable to cases which call only for a qualified, or, as 
I may^say, civil and legal resistance, in such cases employ 
no resistance at all. It is with them a war or a revolution, 
or it is nothing. Finding their schemes of politics not 
adapted to the state of the world in which they live, they 
often come to think lightly of all public principle ; and are 
ready, on their part, to abandon for a very trivial interest 
what they find of very trivial value. Some indeed are of 
more steady and persevering natures ; but these are eager 
politicians out of parliament, who have little to tempt them 
to abandon their favourite projects. They have some 
change in the church or state, or both, constantly in their 
view. When that is the case, they are always bad citizens, 
and perfectly unsure connexions. For, considering their 
speculative designs as of infinite value, and the actual 
arrangement of the state as of no estimation, they are at 
best indifferent about it. They see no merit in the good, 
and no fault in the vicious, management of public affairs; 
they rather rejoice in the latter, as more propitious to 
revolution. They see no merit or demerit in any man, or 
any action, or any political principle, any further than as 
they may forward or retard their design of change : they 
therefore take up, one day, the most violent and stretched 
prerogative, and another time the wildest democratic ideas 
of freedom, and pass from the one to the other without any 
sort of regard to cause, to person, or to party.. 

In France you are now in the crisis of a revolution, and 
in the transit from one form of government to another 
you cannot see that character of men exactly in the same 
situation in which we see it in this country. With us it is 
militant ; with you it is triumphant ; and you know how it 
can act when its power is commensurate to its will. I 



62 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

would not be supposed to confine those observations to 
any description of men, or to comprehend all men of any 
description within them No ! far from it. I am as in- 
capable of that injustice, as I am of keeping terms with 
those who profess principles of extremities; and who, 
under the name of religion, teach little else than wild and 
dangerous politics. The worst of these politics of revolu- 
tion is this : they temper and harden the breast, in order 
to prepare it for the desperate strokes which are some- 
times used in extreme occasions. But as these occasions 
may never arrive, the mind receives a gratuitous taint; 
and the moral sentiments suffer not a little, when no 
political purpose is served by the deprivation. This sort 
of people are so taken up with their theories about the 
rights of man, that they have totally forgotten his nature. 
Without opening one new avenue to the understanding, 
they have succeeded in stopping up those that lead to the 
heart. They have perverted in themselves, and in those 
that attend to them, all the well-placed sympathies of the 
human breast. 

This famous sermon of the Old Jewry breathes nothing 
but this spirit through all , the political part. Plots, 
massacres, assassinations, seem to some people a trivial 
price for obtaining a revolution. A cheap, bloodless re- 
formation, a guiltless liberty, appear flat and vapid to their 
taste. There must be a great change of scene ; there must 
be a magnificent stage effect; there must be a grand 
spectacle to rouse the imagination, grown torpid with the 
lazy enjoyment of sixty years* security, and the still un- 
animating repose of public prosperity. The preacher 
found them all in the French Revolution. This inspires 
a juvenile warmth through his whole frame. His enthu- 
siasm kindles as he advances; and when he arrives at his 
peroration it is in a full blaze. Then viewing, from the 
Pisgah of his pulpit, the free, moral, happy, flourishing, 
and glorious state of France, as in a bird's-eye landscape 
of a promised land, he breaks out into the following 
rapture : 

" What an eventful period is this ! I am thankful that I 
have lived to it ; I could almost say, Lord, now lettest thou 
thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy 
salvation. I have lived to see a diffusion of knowledge, 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 63 

which has undermined superstition and error. I have 
lived to see the rights of men better understood than ever ; 
and nations panting for liberty which seemed to have lost 
the idea of it. I have lived to see thirty millions of people, 
indignant and resolute, spurning at slavery, and demand- 
ing liberty with an irresistible voice. Their king led in 
triumph, and an arbitrary monarch surrendering himself 
to his subjects." * 

Before I proceed further, I have to remark, that Dr. 
Price seems rather to overvalue the great acquisitions of 
light which he has obtained and diffused in this age. The 
last century appears to me to have been quite as much 
enlightened. It had, though in a different place, a triumph 
as memorable as that of Dr. Price ; and some of the great 
preachers of that period partook of it as eagerly as he has 
done in the triumph of France. On the trial of the Rev. 
Hugh Peters for high treason, it was deposed, that when 
King Charles was brought to London for his trial, the 
Apostle of Liberty in that day conducted the triumph. " I 
saw," says the witness, "his Majesty in the coach with 
six horses, and Peters riding before the king, triumph- 
ing." Dr. Price, when he talks as if he had made a dis- 
covery, only follows a precedent ; for, after the commence- 
ment of the king's trial, this precursor, the same Dr. 
Peters, concluding a long prayer at the Royal Chapel at 
Whitehall (he had very triumphantly chosen his place), 
said, *' I have prayed and preached these twenty years ; 
and now I may say with old Simeon, Lord, now lettest 
thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen 
thy salvation." 2 Peters had not the fruits of his prayer; 
for he neither departed so soon as he wished, nor in peace. 
He became (what I heartily hope none of his followers may 
be in this country) himself a sacrifice to the triumph which 
he led as pontiff. They dealt at the Restoration, perhaps, 
too hardly with this poor good man. But we owe it to his 

1 Another of these reverend gentlemen, who was witness to some of 
the spectacles which Paris has lately exhibited, expresses himself thus : 
"A king dragged in submissive triumph by his conquering subjects, 
is one of those appearances of grandeur which seldom rise in the 
prospect of human affairs, and which, during the remainder of my 
life, I shall think of with wonder and gratification." These gentle- 
men agree marvellously in their feelings. 

2 State Trials, vol. ii. pp. 360, 363. 



64 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

memory and his sufferings, that he had as much illumi- 
nation, and as much zeal, and had as effectually under- 
mined all the superstition and error which might impede 
the great business he was engaged in, as any who folloxv 
and repeat after him, in this age, which would assume to 
itself an exclusive title to the knowledge of the rights of 
men, and all the glorious consequences of that knowledge. 

After this sally of the preacher of the Old Jewry, which 
differs only in place and time, but agrees perfectly with the 
spirit and letter of the rapture of 1648, the Revolution 
Society, the fabricators of governments, the heroic band of 
cashier ers of monarchs, electors of sovereigns, and leaders 
of kings in triumph, strutting with a proud consciousness 
of the diffusion of knowledge, of which every member had 
obtained so large a share in the donative, were in haste 
to make a generous diffusion of the knowledge they had 
thus gratuitously received. To make this bountiful com- 
munication, they adjourned from the church in the Old 
Jewry to the London Tavern; where the same Dr. Price, 
in whom the fumes of his oracular tripod \vere not entirely 
evaporated, moved and carried the resolution, or address 
of congratulation, transmitted by Lord Stanhope to the 
National Assembly of France. 

I find a preacher of the gospel profaning the beautiful 
and prophetic ejaculation, commonly called "rawc dimit- 
tis," made on the first presentation of our Saviour in the 
temple, and applying it, with an inhuman and unnatural 
rapture, to the most horrid, atrocious, and afflicting 
spectacle that perhaps ever was exhibited to the pity and 
indignation of mankind. This "leading in triumph/ 9 a 
thing in its best form unmanly and irreligious, which fills 
our preacher with such unhallowed transports, must shock, 
I believe, the moral taste of every well-born mind. Several 
English were the stupified and indignant spectators of that 
triumph. It was (unless we have been strangely deceived) 
a spectacle more resembling a procession of American 
savages, entering into Onondaga, after some of their 
murders called victories, and leading into hovels hung 
round with scalps, their captives, overpowered with the 
scoffs and buffets of women as ferocious as themselves, 
much more than it resembled the triumphal pomp of a 
civilized, martial nation; if a civilized nation, or any 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 65 

men who had a sense of generosity, were capable of a 
personal triumph over the fallen and afflicted. 

This, my dear Sir, was not the triumph of France. I 
must believe that, as a nation, it overwhelmed you with. 
shame and horror. I must believe that the National 
Assembly find themselves in a state of the greatest humilia- 
tion in not being able to punish the authors of this triumph, 
or the actors in it; and that they are in a situation in 
which any inquiry they may make upon the subject must 
be destitute even of the appearance of liberty or impar- 
tiality. The apology of that assembly is found in their 
situation ; but when we approve what they must bear, it Is 
in us the degenerate choice of a vitiated mind. 

With a compelled appearance of deliberation, they vote 
under the dominion of a stern necessity. They sit in the 
heart, as it were, of a foreign republic : they have their 
residence in a city whose constitution has emanated 
neither from the charter of their king, nor from their legis- 
lative power. There they are surrounded by an army not 
raised either by the authority of their crown, or by their 
command ; and which, if they should order to dissolve it- 
self, would instantly dissolve them. There they sit, after 
a gang of assassins had driven away some hundreds of 
the members; whilst those who held the same moderate 
principles, with more patience or better hope, continued 
every day exposed to outrageous Insults and murderous 
threats. There a majority, sometimes real, sometimes 
pretended, captive itself, compels a captive king to Issue 
as royal edicts, at third hand, the polluted nonsense of 
their most licentious and giddy coffee-houses. It is 
notorious, that all their measures are decided before they 
are debated. It is beyond doubt, that under the terror 
of the bayonet, and the lamp-post, and the torch to their 
houses, they are obliged to adopt all the crude and 
desperate measures suggested by clubs composed of a mon- 
strous medley of all conditions, tongues, and nations. 
Among these are found persons, in comparison of whom 
Catiline would be thought scrupulous, and Cethegus a man 
of sobriety and moderation. Nor Is it in these clubs alone 
that the public measures are deformed into monsters. 
They undergo a previous distortion in academies, intended 
as so many seminaries for these clubs, which are set up 



66 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

in all the places of public resort. In these meetings of all 
sorts, every counsel, in proportion as it is daring, and 
violent, and perfidious, is taken for the mark of superior 
genius. Humanity and compassion are ridiculed as the 
fruits of superstition and ignorance. Tenderness to in- 
dividuals is considered as treason to the public. Liberty 
is always to be estimated perfect as property is rendered 
insecure. Amidst assassination, massacre, and confisca- 
tion, pejrpetrated or meditated, they are forming plans for 
the good order of future society. Embracing in their arms 
the carcases of base criminals, and promoting their rela- 
tions on the title of their offences, they drive hundreds of 
virtuous persons to the same end, by forcing them to sub- 
sist by beggary or by crime. 

, The assembly, their organ, acts before them the farce of 
deliberation with as little decency as liberty. They act like 
the comedians of a fair before a riotous audience; they 
act amidst the tumultuous cries of a mixed mob of ferocious 
men, and of women lost to sharne, who, according to their 
insolent fancies, direct, control, applaud, explode them; 
and sometimes mix and take their seats amongst them; 
domineering over them with a strange mixture of servile 
petulance and proud, presumptuous authority. As they 
have inverted order in all things, the gallery is in the place 
of the house. This assembly, which overthrows kings and 
kingdoms, has not even the physiognomy and aspect of a 
grave legislative body nee color imperil, nee frons ulla 
senatds. They have a power given to them, like that of 
the evil principle, to subvert and destroy ; but none to con- 
struct, except such machines as may be fitted for further 
subversion and further destruction. 

Who is it that admires, and from the heart is attached 
to, national representative assemblies, but must turn with 
horror and disgust from such a profane burlesque, and 
abominable perversion of that sacred institute? Lovers of 
monarchy, lovers of republics, must alike abhor it. The 
members of your assembly must themselves groan under 
the tyranny of which they have all the shame, none of the 
direction, and little of the profit. I am sure many of the 
members who compose even the majority of that body must 
feel as I^do, notwithstanding the applauses of the Revolu- 
tion Society. Miserable king ! miserable assembly ! How 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 67 

must that assembly be silently scandalized with those of 
their members, who could call a day which seemed to blot 
the sun ^ out of heaven, "un beau jour I " * How must 
they be inwardly Indignant at hearing others, who thought 
fit to declare to them, " that the vessel of the state would 
fly forward in her course towards regeneration with more 
speed than ever," from the stiff gale of treason and murder, 
which preceded our preacher's triumph ! What must they 
have felt, whilst, with outward patience, and inward in- 
dignation, they heard of the slaughter of innocent gentle- 
men in their houses, that "the blood spilled was not the 
most pure ! " What must they have felt, when they were 
besieged by complaints of disorders which shook their 
country to its foundations, at being compelled coolly to tell 
the complainants, that they were under the protection of 
the law, and that they would address the king (the captive 
king) to cause the laws to be enforced for their protec- 
tion ; when the enslaved ministers of that captive king had 
formally notified to them, that there were neither law, nor 
authority, nor power left to protect ! What must they 
have felt at being obliged, as a felicitation on the present 
new year, to request their captive king to forget the stormy 
period of the last, on account of the great good which "he 
was likely to produce to his people; to the complete attain- 
ment of which good they adjourned the practical demon- 
strations of their loyalty, assuring him of their obedience, 
when he should no longer possess any authority to 
command ! 

This address was made with much good nature and affec- 
tion, to be sure. But among the revolutions in France 
must be reckoned a considerable revolution in their ideas 
of politeness. In England we are said to earn manners at 
second-hand from your side of the water, and that we dress 
our behaviour in the frippery of France. If so, we are still 
in the old cut ; and have not so far conformed to the new 
Parisian mode of good breeding, as to think it quite in the 
most refined strain of delicate compliment (whether in con- 
dolence or congratulation) to say, to the most humiliated 
creature that crawls upon the earth, that great public 
benefits are derived from the murder of his servants, the 
attempted assassination of himself and of his wife, and the 
1 6th of October, 1789. 



68 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

mortification, disgrace, and degradation, that he has per- 
sonally suffered. It is a topic of consolation which our 
ordinary of Newgate would be too humane to use to a 
criminal at the foot of the gallows. I should have thought 
that the hangman of Paris, now that he is liberalized by 
the vote of the National Assembly, and is allowed his rank 
and arms in the herald's college of the rights of men, would 
be too generous, too gallant a man, too full of the sense 
of his new dignity, to employ that cutting consolation to 
any of the persons whom the leze nation might bring under 
the administration of his executive power. 

A man is fallen indeed, when he is thus flattered. The 
anodyne draught of oblivion, thus drugged, is well cal- 
culated to preserve a galling wakefulness, and to feed the 
living ulcer of a corroding memory. Thus to administer 
the opiate potion of amnesty, powdered with all the ingre- 
dients of scorn and contempt, is to hold to his lips, instead 
of "the balm of hurt minds," the cup of human misery full 
to the brim, and to force him to drink it to the dregs. 

Yielding to reasons, at least as forcible as those which 
were so delicately urged in the compliment on the new year, 
the king of France will probably endeavour to forget these 
events and that compliment. But history, who keeps a 
durable record of all our acts, and exercises her awful 
censure over the proceedings of all sorts of sovereigns, 
will not forget either those events or the era of this liberal 
refinement in the intercourse of mankind. History will 
record, that on the morning of the 6th of October, 1789, 
the king and queen of France, after a day of confusion, 
alarm, dismay, and slaughter, lay down, under the pledged 
security of public faith, to indulge nature in a few hours 
of respite, and troubled, melancholy repose. From this 
sleep the queen was first startled by the voice of the 
sentinel at her door, who cried out to her to save herself 
by flight that this was the last proof of fidelity he could 
give that they were upon him, and he was dead. In- 
stantly he was cut down. A band of cruel ruffians and 
assassins, reeking with his blood, rushed into the chamber 
of the queen, and pierced with a hundred strokes of 
bayonets and poniards' the bed, from whence this per- 
secuted woman had but just time to fly almost naked, and, 
through ways unknown to the murderers, had escaped to 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 6g 

seek refuge at the feet of a king and husband, not secure 
of his own life for a moment. 

This king, to say no more of him, and this queen, and 
their infant children {who once would have been the pride 
and hope of a great and generous people), were then forced 
to abandon the sanctuary of the most splendid palace in 
the world, which they left swimming- in blood, polluted by 
massacre, and strewed with scattered limbs and mutilated 
carcases. Thence they were conducted into the capital of 
their kingdom. Two had been selected from the unpro- 
voked, unresisted, promiscuous slaughter, which was made 
of the gentlemen of birth and family who composed the 
king's body guard. These two gentlemen, with all the 
parade of an execution of justice, were cruelly and publicly 
dragged to the block, and beheaded in the great court o'f 
the palace. Their heads were stuck upon spears, and led 
the procession; whilst the royal captives who followed in 
the train were slowly moved along, amidst the horrid yells, 
and shrilling screams, and frantic dances, and infamous 
contumelies, and all the unutterable abominations of the 
furies of hell, in the abused shape of the vilest of women. 
After they had been made to taste, drop by drop, more 
than the bitterness of death, in the slow torture of a journey 
of twelve miles, protracted to six hours, they were, under 
a guard, composed of those very soldiers who had thus 
conducted them through this famous triumph, lodged in 
one of the old palaces of Paris, now converted into a 
bastile for kings. 

Is this a triumph to be consecrated at altars? to be com- 
memorated with grateful thanksgiving? to be offered to the 
divine humanity with fervent prayer and enthusiastic ejacu- 
lation? These Theban and Thracian orgies, acted in 
France, and applauded only in the Old Jewry, I assure you, 
kindle prophetic enthusiasm in the minds but of very few 
people in this kingdom : although a saint and apostle, who 
may have revelations of his own, and who has so com- 
pletely vanquished all the mean superstitions of the heart, 
may incline to think it pious and decorous to compare it 
with the entrance into the world of the Prince of Peace, 
proclaimed in a holy temple by a venerable sage, and not 
long before not worse announced by the voice of angels to 
the quiet innocence of shepherds. 



70 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

At first I was at a loss to account for this fit of unguarded 
transport. I knew, indeed, that the sufferings of monarchs 
make a delicious repast to some sort of palates. There 
were reflections which might serve to keep this appetite 
within some bounds of temperance. But when I took one 
circumstance into my consideration, I was obliged to con- 
fess, that much allowance ought to be made for the society, 
and that the temptation was too strong for common dis- 
cretion; I mean, the circumstance of the lo Psean of the 
triumph, the animating cry which called "for all the 
BISHOPS to be hanged on the lamp-posts," l might well 
have brought forth a burst of enthusiasm on the foreseen 
consequences of this happy day. I allow to so much enthu- 
siasm some little deviation from prudence. I allow this 
prophet to break forth into hymns of joy and thanksgiving 
on an event which appears like the precursor of the 
millennium, and the projected fifth monarchy, in the destruc- 
tion of all church establishments. There was, however 
(as in all human affairs there is), in the midst of this joy, 
something to exercise the patience of these worthy gentle- 
men, and to try the long-suffering of their faith. The 
actual murder of the king and queen, and their child, was 
wanting to the other auspicious circumstances of this 
"beautiful day." The actual murder of the bishops, 
though called for by so many holy ejaculations, was also 
wanting. A group of regicide and sacrilegious slaughter 
was indeed boldly sketched, but it was only sketched. It 
unhappily was left unfinished, in this great history-piece 
of the massacre of innocents. What hardy pencil of a 
great master, from the school of the rights of men, will 
finish it, is to be seen hereafter. The age has not yet the 
complete benefit of that diffusion of knowledge that has 
undermined superstition and error ; and the king of France 
wants another object or two to consign to oblivion, in 
consideration of all the good which is to arise from his own 
sufferings, and the patriotic crimes of an enlightened age. 2 

1 Tous les Eve"ques a la lanterne. 

3 It is proper here to refer to a letter written upon this subject by an 
eye-witness. That eye-witness was one of the most honest, intelligent, 
and eloquent members of the National Assembly, one of the most active 
and zealous reformers of the state. He was obliged to secede from the 
assembly ; and he afterwards became a voluntary exile, on account of 
the horrors of this pious triumph, and the dispositions of men, who, 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 71 

Although this work of our new lig-ht and knowledge did 
not go to the length that in all probability It was intended 

profiting of crimes, if not causing them, have taken the lead In public 

a^airs. r 

Extract of M. de Lally Tollendal's Second Letter to a Friend. 
**Parlons du parti que j'ai pris; i! est Men justing dans ma con- 
science. Ni cette viiie coupable, ni cette assemble* plus coupable 
encore, ne meritoient que je me Justine; mais j'ai & cceur que vous et 
les personnes qui pensent conime vous, ne me condamnent pas. Ma 
sante, je vous jure, me rendoit mes fonctions impossibles ; mais meme 
en les mettant de c6te* il a et6 au-dessus de mes forces de supporter plus 
long-terns Thorreur que me causoit ce sang, ces tetes cette reine 
presque egorgee t ce roi, amene" esclave, entrant a Paris, au milieu 

de ses assassins, et pre*ce"de" des tetes des ses malheureux grades ces 

perfides janissaires, ces assassins, ces femmes cannibales, ce cri de TOUS 
LES EVEQUES A LA LANTERNS, dans le moment ou le roi entre sa capitate 
avec^deux ey&ques de son conseil dans sa voiture un coup de fusil, 




M. Mirabeau disant impune'ment dans cette assembled que le vaisseau 
de Petat, loins d'etre arrete' dans sa course, s*6!anceroit avec plus de 
rapidit^ que jamais vers sa regeneration M. Bamave, riant avec lui, 
quand des flots de sang coulaient autour de nous le vertueux 
Mourner 1 e"chappant par miracle a vingt assassins, qui avoient voulu 
faire de sa tete un trophee de plus : Voila ce qui me fit jurer de ne 
plus mettre le pied dans cette cauerne d' Anthropofhages [the National 
Assembly] ou je n'avois plus de force d Clever la voix, oil depuis six 
semaines je Pavois ^lev^e en vain. 

*'Moi 5 Mounier, et tous les honn^tes gens, ont pense" que le dernier 
effort a faire pour le bien &toit d'en sortir. Aucune id6e de crainte ne 
s'est approch^e de moi. Je rougirois de m'en d^fendre. J'avois encore 
regft sur la route de la part de ce peuple, moms coupable que ceux qui 
Tont enivre" de fureur, des acclamations, et des applaudissements, dont 
d'autres aurolent iti fiatt^s, et qui m'ont fait fr^mir. C'est & Tindig- 
nation, c'est a 1'horreur, c'est aux convulsions physiques, que te seul 
aspect du sang me fait e*prouver que j'ai cede". On brave une seul 
mort; on la brave plusieurs fois, quand elle peut etre utile. Mais 
aucune puissance sous le Ciel, mais aucune opinion publique ou privet 
n'ont le droit de me condamner a souffrir inutilement mille suppHces 
par minute, et a. perir de desespoir, de rage, au milieu des triomphes, 
du crime que je n'ai pu arreter. He me proscriront, ils confisqueront 
mes biens. Je labourerai la terre, et je ne les verrai plus. Voila ma 
justification. Vous pourrez la lire, la montrer, la laisser copier ; taut 
pis pour ceux qui ne la comprendront pas; ce ne sera alors mo! qui 
aurolt eu tort de la leur donner." 

This military man had not so good nerves as the peaceable gentle- 

* 1SLB. Mr. Moiuiier was then speaker of the National Assembly. He fras since been 
obliged to live in exile, though one of the firmest assertors of liberty. 



7* REFLECTIONS ON THE 

it should be carried, yet I must think that such treatment 
of any human creatures must be shocking to any but those 
who are made for accomplishing revolutions. But I can- 
not stop here. Influenced by the inborn feelings of my 
nature, and not being illuminated by a single ray of this 
new-sprung modern light, I confess to you, Sir, that the 
exalted rank of the persons suffering, and particularly the 
sex, the beauty, and the amiable qualities of the descendant 
of so many kings and emperors, with the tender age of 
royal infants, insensible only through infancy and inno- 
cence of the cruel outrages to which their parents were 
exposed, instead of being a subject of exultation, adds 
not a little to my sensibility on that most melancholy 
occasion. 

I hear that the august person, who was the principal 
object of our preacher's triumph, though he supported him- 
self, felt much on that shameful occasion. As a man, it 
became him to feel for his wife and his children, and the 
faithful guards of his person, that were massacred in cold 
blood about him ; as a prince, it became him to feel for the 
strange and frightful transformation of his civilized sub- 
jects, and to be more grieved for them than solicitous for 
himself. It derogates little from his fortitude, while it 
adds infinitely to the honour of his humanity. I am very 
sorry to say it, very sorry indeed, that such personages 
are in a situation in which it is not becoming in us to praise 
the virtues of the great. 

I hear, and I rejoice to hear, that the great lady, the 
other object of the triumph, has borne that day (one is in- 
terested that beings made for suffering should suffer well), 
and that she bears all the succeeding days, that she bears 
the imprisonment of her husband, and her own captivity, 
and the exile of her friends, and the insulting adulation 
of addresses, and the whole weight of her accumulated 
wrongs, with a serene patience, in a manner suited to her 
rank and race, and becoming the offspring of a sovereign 
distinguished for her piety and her courage : that, like her, 
she has lofty sentiments; that she feels with the dignity 
of a Roman matron ; that in the last extremity she will 

men of the Old Jewry. See Mons. Mounier's narrative of these trans- 
actions ; a man also of honour, and virtue, and talents, and therefore 
a fugitive. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 73 

save herself from the last disgrace ; and that, If she must 
fall, she will fall by no ignoble hand. 

It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the queen 
of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles ; and surely 
never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to 
touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above 
the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere 
she just began to move in, glittering like the morning- 
star, full of life, and splendour, and joy. Oh ! what a 
revolution ! and what a heart must I have to contemplate 
without emotion that elevation and that fall ! Little did 
I dream when she added titles of veneration to those of 
enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever 
be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace 
concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should 
have lived to see such disasters fallen upon her in a nation 
of gallant men, In a nation of men of honour, and of 
cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have 
leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look that 
threatened her with insult. But the age of chivalry is 
gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, 
has succeeded ; and the glory of Europe is extinguished 
for ever. Never, never more shall we behold that 
generous loyalty to rank and sex, that proud submission, 
that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, 
which kept alive, even in servitude Itself, the spirit of an 
exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap 
defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and 
heroic enterprise, is gone ! It is gone, that sensibility of 
principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a 
wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, 
which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice 
itself lost half its evil, by losing all its grossness. 

This mixed system of opinion and sentiment had its 
origin in the ancient chivalry; and the principle, though 
varied In its appearance by the varying state of human 
affairs, subsisted and influenced through a long succession 
of generations, even to the time we live in. If it should 
ever be totally extinguished, the loss I fear will be great. 
It Is this which has given its character to modern Europe. 
It is this which has distinguished it under all its forms 
of government, and distinguished it to its advantage, from 



74 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

the states of Asia, and possibly from those states which 
flourished in the most brilliant periods of the antique 
world. It was this, which, without confounding ranks, 
had produced a noble equality, and handed it down 
through all the^ gradations of social life. It was this 
opinion which mitigated kings into companions, and raised 
private men to be fellows with kings. Without force or 
opposition, it subdued the fierceness of pride and power; 
it obliged sovereigns to submit to the soft collar of social 
esteem, compelled stern authority to submit to elegance, 
and gave a dominating vanquisher of laws to be subdued 
by manners. 

But now all is to be changed. All the pleasing illusions, 
which made power gentle and obedience liberal, which 
harmonized the different shades of life, and which, by a 
bland assimilation, incorporated into politics the sentiments 
which beautify and soften private society, are to be dis- 
solved by this new conquering empire of light and reason. 
All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All 
the superadded ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a 
moral imagination, which the heart owns, and the under- 
standing ratifies, as necessary to cover the defects of our 
naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our 
own estimation, are to be exploded as a ridiculous, absurd, 
and antiquated fashion. 

On this scheme of things , a king is but a man, a queen 
is but a woman ; a woman is but an animal, and an animal 
not of the highest order. All homage paid to the sex in 
general as such, and without distinct views, is to be 
regarded as romance and folly. Regicide, and parricide, 
and sacrilege, are but fictions of superstition, corrupting 
jurisprudence by destroying its simplicity. The murder of 
a king, or a queen, or a bishop, or a father, are only com- 
mon homicide; and if the people are by any chance, or in 
any way, gainers by it, a sort of homicide much the most 
pardonable, and into which we ought not to make too 
severe a scrutiny. 

On the scheme of this barbarous philosophy, which is 
the offspring of cold hearts and muddy understandings, and 
which is as void of solid wisdom as it is destitute of all 
taste and elegance, laws are to be supported only by their 
own terrors, and by the concern which each individual may 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 75 

find in them from his own private speculations, or can spare 
to them from his own private interests. In the groves of 
their academy, at the end of every vista, you see nothing 
but the gallows. Nothing is left which engages the affec- 
tions on the part of the commonwealth. On the principles 
of this mechanic philosophy, our institutions can never be 
embodied, if I may use the expression, In persons ; so as 
to create in us love, veneration, admiration, or attachment. 
But that sort of reason which banishes the affections is 
incapable of filling their place. These public affections, 
combined with manners, are required sometimes as supple- 
ments, sometimes as correctives, always as aids to law. 
The precept given by a wise man, as well as a great critic, 
for the construction of poems, is equally true as to states : 
Non satis est pulchra esse poemata, dulcia sunto. 
There ought to be a system of manners in every nation, 
which a well-formed mind would be disposed to relish. 
To make us love our country, our country ought to be 
lovely. 

But power, of some kind or other, will survive the shock 
in which manners and opinions perish ; and it will find other 
and worse means for its support. The usurpation which, 
in order to subvert ancient institutions, has destroyed 
ancient principles, will hold power by arts similar to those 
by which it has acquired It. When the old feudal and 
chivalrous spirit of fealty, which, by freeing kings from 
fear, freed both kings and subjects from the precautions 
of tyranny, shall be extinct in the minds of men, plots and 
assassinations will be anticipated by preventive murder and 
preventive confiscation, and that long roll of grim and 
bloody maxims, which form the political code of all power, 
not standing on its own honour, and the honour of those 
who are to obey it. Kings will be tyrants from policy, 
when subjects are rebels from principle. 

When ancient opinions and rules of life are taken away, 
the loss cannot possibly be estimated. From that moment 
we have no compass to govern us; nor can we know dis- 
tinctly to what port we steer. Europe, undoubtedly, taken 
in a mass, was in a flourishing condition the day on which 
your revolution was completed. How much of that pros- 
perous state was owing to the spirit of our old manners 
and opinions is not easy to say ; but as such causes cannot 



7 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

be indifferent in their operation, we must presume, that, 
on the whole, their operation was beneficial. 

We are but too apt to consider things in the state in 
which we find them, without sufficiently adverting to the 
causes by which they have been produced, and possibly 
may be upheld. Nothing is more certain, than that our 
manners, our civilization, and all the good things which 
are connected with manners and with civilization, have, in 
this European world of ours, depended for ages upon txvo 
principles ; and were indeed the result of both combined ; 
I mean the spirit of a gentleman, and the spirit of religion. 
The nobility and the clergy, the one by profession, the other 
by patronage, kept learning in existence, even in the midst 
of arms and confusions, and whilst governments were 
rather in their causes, than formed. Learning paid back 
what it received to nobility and to priesthood ; and paid it 
with usury, by enlarging their ideas, and by furnishing 
their minds. Happy if they had all continued to know their 
indissoluble union, and their proper place ! Happy if 
learning, not debauched by ambition, had been satisfied to 
continue the instructor, and not aspired to be the master ! 
Along with its natural protectors and guardians, learning 
will be cast into the mire, and trodden down under the 
hoofs of a swinish multitude. 1 

If, as I suspect, modern letters owe more than they are 
always willing to own to ancient manners, so do other 
interests which we value full as much as they are worth. 
Even commerce, and trade, and manufacture, the gods of 
our economical politicians, are themselves perhaps but 
creatures ; are themselves but effects, which, as first causes, 
we choose to worship. They certainly grew under the 
same shade in which learning flourished. They too may 
decay with their natural protecting principles. With you, 
for the present at least, they all threaten to disappear 
together. Where trade and manufactures are wanting to 
a people, and the spirit of nobility and religion remains, 
sentiment supplies, and not always ill supplies, their place ; 
but if commerce and the arts should be lost in an experi- 
ment to try how well a state may stand without these old 

1 See the fate of Bailly and Condorcet, supposed to be here particu- 
larly alluded to. Compare the circumstances of the trial and execution 
of the former with this prediction. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 77 

fundamental principles, what sort of a thing must be a 
nation of gross, stupid, ferocious, and, at the same time, 
poor and sordid, barbarians, destitute of religion, honour, 
or manly pride, possessing nothing at present, and hoping 
for nothing hereafter? 

I wish you may not be going fast, and by the shortest 
cut, to that horrible and disgustful situation. Already 
there appears a poverty of conception, a coarseness and 
vulgarity, in all the proceedings of the Assembly and of all 
their instructors. Their liberty is not liberal. Their science 
Is presumptuous ignorance. Their humanity is savage and 
brutal. 

It is not clear, whether in England we learned those 
grand and decorous principles and manners, of which con- 
siderable traces yet remain, from you, or whether you took 
them from us. But to you, I think, we trace them best. 
You seem to me to be gentis incunabula nostrce. France 
has always more or less influenced manners in England ; 
and when your fountain is choked up and polluted, the 
stream will not run long, or not run clear, with us, or 
perhaps with any nation. This gives all Europe, in my 
opinion, but too close and connected a concern in what is 
done in France. Excuse me, therefore, if I have dwelt too 
long on the atrocious spectacle of the 6th of October, 1789, 
or^have given too much scope to the reflections which have 
arisen in my mind on occasion of the most important of all 
revolutions, which may be dated from that day, I mean a 
revolution in sentiments, manners, and moral opinions. 
As things now stand, with everything respectable des- 
troyed without us, and an attempt to destroy within us 
every principle of respect, one is almost forced to apologize 
for harbouring the common feelings of men. 

Why do I feel so differently from the Reverend Dr. 
Price, and those of his lay flock who will choose to adopt 
the sentiments of his discourse? For this plain reason 
because it is natural I should ; because we are so made, as 
to be affected at such spectacles with melancholy senti- 
ments upon the unstable condition of mortal prosperity, 
and the tremendous uncertainty of human greatness; be- 
cause in those natural feelings we learn great lessons; 
because in events like these our passions instruct our 
reason ; because when kings are hurled from their thrones 



78 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

by the Supreme Director of this great drama, and become 
the objects of insult to the base, and of pity to the good, 
we behold such disasters in the moral, as we should be- 
hold a miracle in the physical, order of things. We are 
alarmed into reflection ; our minds (as it has long since 
been observed) are purified by terror and pity; our weak, 
unthinking pride is humbled under the dispensations of a 
mysterious wisdom. Some tears might be drawn from 
me, If such a spectacle were exhibited on the stage. I 
should be truly ashamed of finding in myself that super- 
ficial, theatric sense of painted distress, whilst I could exult 
over it in real life. With such a perverted mind, I could 
never venture to show my face at a tragedy. People would 
think the tears that Garrick formerly, or that Siddons not 
long since, have extorted from me, were the tears of 
hypocrisy; I should know them to be the tears of folly. 

Indeed the theatre is a better school of moral sentiments 
than churches, where the feelings of humanity are thus out- 
raged. Poets who have to deal with an audience not yet 
graduated in the school of the rights of men, and who must 
apply themselves to the moral constitution of the heart, 
would not dare to produce such a triumph as a matter of 
exultation. There, where men follow their natural im- 
pulses, they would not bear the odious maxims of a 
Machiavelian policy, whether applied to the attainment of 
monarchical or democratic tyranny. They would reject 
them on the modern, as they once did on the ancient stage, 
where they could not bear even the hypothetical proposi- 
tion of such wickedness in the mouth of a personated 
tyrant, though suitable to the character he sustained. No 
theatric audience in Athens would bear what has been 
borne, in the midst of the real tragedy of this triumphal 
day ; a principal actor weighing, as it were in scales hung 
in a shop of horrors, so much actual crime against so 
much contingent advantage, and after putting in and out 
weights, declaring that the balance was on the side of the 
advantages. They would not bear to see the crimes of new 
democracy posted as in a ledger against the crimes of old 
despotism, and the book-keepers of politics finding de- 
mocracy still in debt, but by no means unable or unwilling 
to pay the balance. In the theatre, the first intuitive 
glance, without any elaborate process of reasoning, will 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 79 

show, that this method of political computation would 
justify every extent of crime. They would see, that on 
these principles, even where the very worst acts were not 
perpetrated, it was owing rather to the fortune of the con- 
spirators, than to their parsimony in the expenditure of 
treachery and blood. They would soon see, that criminal 
means once tolerated are soon preferred. They present a 
shorter cut to the object than through the highway of the 
moral virtues. Justifying* perfidy and murder for public 
benefit, public benefit would soon become the pretext, and 
perfidy and murder the end ; until rapacity, malice, revenge, 
and fear more dreadful than revenge, could satiate their 
insatiable appetites. Such must be the consequences of 
losing, in the splendour of these triumphs of the rights of 
men, all natural sense of wrong and right. 

But the reverend pastor exults in this "leading in 
triumph," because truly Louis the Sixteenth was "an 
arbitrary monarch " ; that is, in other words, neither more 
nor less than because he was Louis the Sixteenth, and 
because he had the misfortune to be born king of France, 
with the prerogatives of which, a long line of ancestors, 
and a long acquiescence of the people, without any act of 
his, had put him in possession. A misfortune it has in- 
deed turned out to him, that he was born king of France. 
But misfortune is not crime, nor is indiscretion always the 
greatest guilt. I shall never think that a prince, the acts 
of whose whole reign were a series of concessions to his 
subjects, who was willing to relax his authority, to remit 
his prerogatives, to call his people to a share of freedom, 
not known, perhaps not desired, by their ancestors; such 
a prince, though he should be subjected to the common 
frailties attached to men and to princes, though he should 
have once thought it necessary to provide force against 
the desperate designs manifestly carrying on against his 
person, and the remnants of his authority; though all this 
should be taken into consideration, I shall be led with 
great difficulty to think he deserves the cruel and insulting 
triumph of Paris and of Dr. Price. I tremble for the cause 
of liberty, from such an example to kings. I tremble for 
the cause of humanity, in the unpunished outrages of the 
most wicked of mankind. But there are some people of 
that low and degenerate fashion of mind, that they look up 



So REFLECTIONS ON THE 

with a sort of complacent awe and admiration to kings, 
who know to keep firm in their seat, to hold a strict hand 
over their subjects, to assert their prerogative, and, by the 
awakened vigilance of a severe despotism, to guard against 
the very first approaches of freedom. Against such as 
these they never elevate their voice. Deserters from prin- 
ciple, listed with fortune, they never see any good in 
suffering virtue, nor any crime in prosperous usurpation. 

If it could have been made clear to me, that the king and 
queen of France (those I mean who were such before the 
triumph) were inexorable and cruel tyrants, that they had 
formed a deliberate scheme for massacring the National 
Assembly (I think I have seen something like the latter 
insinuated in certain publications), I should think their 
captivity just. If this be true, much more ought to have 
been done, but done, in my opinion, in another manner. 
The punishment of real tyrants is a noble and awful act of 
justice; and it has with truth been said to be consolatory 
to the human mind. But if I were to punish a wicked 
king, I should regard the dignity in avenging the crime, 
Justice is grave and decorous, and in its punishments rather 
seems to submit to a necessity, than to make a choice. 
Had Nero, or Agrippina, or Louis the Eleventh, or Charles 
the Ninth, been the subject; if Charles the Twelfth of 
Sweden, after the murder of Patkul, or his predecessor 
Christina, after the murder of Monaldeschi, had fallen 
into your hands, Sir, or into mine, I am sure our conduct 
would have been different 

If the French king, or king of the French (or by what- 
ever name he is known in the new vocabulary of your con- 
stitution), has in his own person, and that of his queen, 
really deserved these una vowed, but unavenged, murderous 
attempts, and those frequent indignities more cruel than 
murder, such a person would ill deserve even that subor- 
dinate executory trust, which I understand is to be placed 
in him ; nor is he fit to be called chief in a nation which he 
has outraged and oppressed. A worse choice for such an 
office In a new commonwealth, than that of a deposed 
tyrant, could not possibly be made. But to degrade and 
insult a man as the worst of criminals, and afterwards to 
trust him in your highest concerns, as a faithful, honest, 
and zealous servant, is not consistent with reasoning, nor 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE Si 

prudent In policy, nor safe in practice. Those who could 
make such an appointment must be guilty of a more lag- 
rant breach of trust than any they have yet committed 
against the people. As this is the only crime in which 
your leading politicians could have acted inconsistently, I 
conclude that there is no sort of ground for these horrid 
insinuations. I think no better of all the other calumnies. 

In England, we give no credit to them. We are gener- 
ous enemies : we are faithful allies. We spurn from us 
with disgust and indignation the slanders of those who 
bring us their anecdotes with the attestation of the flower- 
de-luce on their shoulder. We have Lord George Gordon 
fast in Newgate; and neither his being a public proselyte 
to_ Judaism, nor his having, in his zeal against catholic 
priests and all sorts of ecclesiastics, raised a mob (excuse 
the term, it is still in use here) which pulled down all our 
prisons, have preserved to him a liberty, of which he did 
not render himself worthy by a virtuous use of it. We 
have rebuilt Newgate, and tenanted the mansion. We 
have prisons almost as strong as the Bastile, for those 
who dare to libel the queens of France. In this spiritual 
retreat, let the noble libeller remain. Let him there medi- 
tate on his Thalmud, until he learns a conduct more becom- 
ing his birth and parts, and not so disgraceful to the 
ancient religion to which he has become a proselyte; or 
until some persons from your side of the water, to please 
your new Hebrew brethren, shall ransom him. He may 
then be enabled to purchase, with the old boards of the 
synagogue, and a very small poundage on the long com- 
pound interest of the thirty pieces of silver (Dr. Price 
has shown us what miracles compound interest will per- 
form in 1790 years), the lands which are lately discovered 
to have been usurped by the Gallican church. Send us 
your Popish archbishop of Paris, and we will send you our 
Protestant Rabbin. We shall treat the person you send 
us in exchange like a gentleman and an honest man, as he 
is ; but pray let him bring with him the fund of his hospi- 
tality, bounty, and charity; and, depend upon it, we shall 
never confiscate a shilling of that honourable and pious 
fund, nor think of enriching the treasury with the spoils 
of the poor-box. 

To tell you the truth, my dear Sir, I think the honour of 



82 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

our nation to be somewhat concerned in the disclaimer of 
the proceedings of this society of the Old Jewry and the 
London Tavern. I have no man's proxy. I speak only 
for myself, when I disclaim, as I do with all possible 
earnestness, all communion with the actors in that triumph, 
or with the admirers of it. When I assert anything else, 
as concerning the people of England, I speak from 
observation, not from authority; but I speak from the 
experience I have had in a pretty extensive and mixed 
communication with the inhabitants of this kingdom, of 
all descriptions and ranks, and after a course of attentive 
observation, began early in life, and continued for nearly 
forty years. I have often been astonished, considering 
that we are divided from you but by a slender dyke of 
about twenty-four miles, and that the mutual intercourse 
between the two countries has lately been very great, to 
find how little you seem to know of us. I suspect that 
this is owing 1 to your forming a judgment of this nation 
from certain publications, which do, very erroneously, if 
they do at all, represent the opinions and dispositions 
generally prevalent in England. The vanity, restlessness, 
petulance, and spirit of intrigue, of several petty cabals, 
who attempt to hide their total want of consequence in 
bustle and noise, arid puffing, and mutual quotation of each 
other, makes you imagine that our contemptuous neglect 
of their abilities is a mark of general acquiescence in their 
opinions. No such thing, I assure you. Because half a 
dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with 
their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle, 
reposed beneath the shadow of the British oak, chew the 
cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who 
make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field ; that, 
of course, they are many in number ; or that, after all, they 
are other than the little, shrivelled, meagre, hopping, 
though loud and troublesome, insects of the hour. 

I almost venture to affirm, that not one in a hundred 
amongst us participates in the " triumph " of the Revolu- 
tion Society. If the king and queen of France, and their 
children, were to fall into our hands by the chance of war, 
in the most acrimonious of all hostilities (I deprecate such 
an event, I deprecate such hostilities), they would be treated 
with another sort of triumphal entry into London. We 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 83 

formerly have had a king of France In that situation ; you 
have read how he was treated by the victor in the field ; 
and in what manner he was afterwards received in Eng- 
land. Four hundred years have gone over us ; but I believe 
we are not materially changed since that period. Thanks 
to OUT sullen resistance to innovation, thanks to the cold 
sluggishness of our national character, we still bear the 
stamp of our forefathers. We have not (as I conceive} 
lost the generosity and dignity of thinking of the fourteenth 
century; nor as yet have we subtilized ourselves into 
savages. We are not the converts of Rousseau ; we are 
not the disciples of Voltaire; Helvetius has made no pro- 
gress amongst us. Atheists are not our preachers ; mad- 
men are not our lawgivers. We know that we have made 
no discoveries, and we think that no discoveries are to be 
made, in morality ; nor many in the great principles of 
government, nor in the ideas of liberty, which were under- 
stood long before we were born, altogether as well as they 
will be after the grave has heaped its mould upon our pre- 
sumption, and the silent tomb shall have imposed its law 
on our pert loquacity. In England we have not yet been 
completely embowelled of our natural entrails ; we still feel 
within us, and we cherish and cultivate, those inbred senti- 
ments which are the faithful guardians, the active monitors 
of our duty, the true supporters of all liberal and manly 
morals. We have not been drawn and trussed, in order 
that we may be filled, like stuffed birds in a museum, with 
chaff and rags and paltry blurred shreds of paper about 
the rights of man. We preserve the whole of our feelings 
still native and entire, unsophisticated by pedantry and 
infidelity. We have real hearts of flesh and blood beating 
in our bosoms. We fear God; we look up with awe to 
kings ; with affection to parliaments ; with duty to magis- 
trates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to 
nobility. 1 Why? Because when such ideas are brought 

1 The English are, I conceive, misrepresented in a ieiter published in 
one of the papers, by a gentleman thought to be a dissenting minister. 
When writing to Dr. Price of the spirit which prevails at Paris, he 
says : " The spirit of the people in this place has abolished all the proud 
distinctions which the king and nobles had usurped in their minds; 
whether they talk of the king, the noble, or the priest, their whole 
language is that of the most enlightened and liberal amongst the Eng- 
lish." If this gentleman means to confine the terms enlightened and 



84 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

before our minds, It is natural to be so affected; because 

all other feelings are false and spurious, and tend to corrupt 
our minds, to vitiate our primary morals, to render us 
unfit for rational liberty; and by teaching us a servile, 
licentious, and abandoned insolence, to be our low sport 

for a few holidays, to make us perfectly fit for, and justly 
deserving of, slavery, through the whole course of our 
lives. 

You see, Sir, that in this enlightened age I am bold 
enough to confess, that we are generally men of untaught 
feelings ; that instead of casting away all our old preju- 
dices, we cherish them to a very considerable degree, and, 
to take more shame to ourselves, we cherish them because 
they are prejudices; and the longer they have lasted, and 
the more generally they have prevailed, the more we cherish 
them. We are afraid to put men to live and trade each 
on his own private stock of reason; because we suspect 
that this stock in each man is small, and that the indi- 
viduals would do better to avail themselves of the general 
bank and capital of nations and of ages. Many of our 
men of speculation, instead of exploding general preju- 
dices, employ their sagacity to discover the latent wisdom 
which prevails in them. If they find what they seek, and 
they seldom fail, they think it more wise to continue the 
prejudice, with the reason involved, than to cast away the 
coat of prejudice, and to leave nothing but the naked 
reason ; because prejudice, with its reason, has a motive to 
give action to that reason, and an affection which will give 
it permanence. Prejudice is of ready application in the 
emergency; it previously engages the mind in a steady 
course of wisdom and virtue, and does not leave the man 
hesitating in the moment of decision, sceptical, puzzled, 
and unresolved. Prejudice renders a man's virtue his 
habit ; and not a series of unconnected acts. Through just 
prejudice, his duty becomes a part of his nature. 

Your literary men, and your politicians, and so do the 
whole clan of the enlightened among us, essentially differ in 
these points. They have no respect for the wisdom of 
others ; but they pay it off by a very full measure of con- 
fidence in their own. With them it is a sufficient motive to 

liberal to one set of men in England, it may be true. It is not 

generally so. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 85 

destroy an old scheme of things, because it is an old one. 
As to the new, they are in no sort of fear with regard to 
the duration of a building- run up in haste; because dura- 
tion is no object to those who think little or nothing- has 
been done before their time, and who place all their hopes 
in ^ discovery. They conceive, very systematically, that all 
thing's which give perpetuity are mischievous, and therefore 
they are at inexpiable war with all establishments. They 
think that government may vary like modes of dress, and 
with as little ill effect: that there needs no principle of 
attachment, except a sense of present conveniency, to any 
constitution ^of the state. They always speak as if they 
were of opinion that there is a singular species of compact 
between them and their magistrates, which binds the 
magistrate, but which has nothing reciprocal in it, but that 
the majesty of the people has a right to dissolve it without 
any reason, but its will. Their attachment to their country 
itself is only so far as it agrees with some of their fleeting; 
projects; it begins and ends with that scheme of polity 
which falls in with their momentary opinion. 

^These doctrines, or rather sentiments, seem prevalent 
with your new statesmen. But they are wholly * different 
from those on which we have always acted in this country. 

I hear it is sometimes given out in France, that what is 
doing among you is after the example of England. I beg 
leave to affirm, that scarcely anything- done with you has 
originated from the practice or the prevalent opinions of 
this people, either in the act or in the spirit of the proceed- 
ing. Let me add, that we are as unwilling- to learn these 
lessons from France, as we are sure that we never taught 
them to that nation. The cabals here, who take a sort of 
share in your transactions, as yet consist of but a handful 
of people. If unfortunately by their intrigues, their ser- 
mons, their publications, and by a confidence derived from 
an expected union with the counsels and forces of the 
French nation, they should draw considerable numbers into 
their faction, and in consequence should seriously attempt 
anything here in imitation of what has been done with you, 
the event, I dare venture to prophesy, will be, that, with 
some trouble to their country, they will soon accomplish 
their own destruction. This people refused to change their 
law in remote ages from respect to the infallibility of 



86 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

popes ; and they will not now alter it from a pious implicit 
faith in the dogmatism of philosophers ; though the former 
was armed with the anathema and crusade, and though 
the latter should act with the libel and the lamp-iron. 

Formerly your affairs were your own concern only. We 
felt for them as men ; but we kept aloof from them, because 
we were not citizens of France. But when we see the 
model held up to ourselves, we must feel as Englishmen, 
and feeling, we must provide as Englishmen. Your 
affairs, in spite of us, are made a part of our interest; so 
far at least as to keep at a distance your panacea, or your 
plague. If it be a panacea, we do not want it. We know 
the consequences of unnecessary physic. If it be a plague, 
it is such a plague that the precautions of the most severe 
quarantine ought to be established against it. 

I hear on all hands that a cabal, calling itself philosophic, 
receives the glory of many of the late proceedings ; and 
that their opinions and systems are the true actuating spirit 
of the whole of them. I have heard of no party in Eng- 
land, literary or political, at any time, known by such a 
description. It is not with you composed of those men, is 
it? whom the vulgar, in their blunt, homely style, com- 
monly call atheists and infidels? If it be, I admit that we 
too have had writers of that description, who made some 
noise in their day. At present they repose in lasting 
oblivion. Who, born within the last forty years, has read 
one word of Collins, and Toland, and Tindal, and Chubb, 
and Morgan, and that whole race who called themselves 
Freethinkers? Who now reads Bolingbroke? Who ever 
read him through? Ask the booksellers of London what 
is become of all these lights of the world. In as few years 
their few successors will go to the family vault of " all the 
Capulets." But whatever they were, or are, with us, they 
were and are wholly unconnected individuals. With us 
they kept the common nature of their kind, and were not 
gregarious. They never acted in corps, or were known 
as a faction in the state, nor presumed to influence in that 
name or character, or for the purposes of such a faction, 
on any of our public concerns. Whether they ought so to 
exist, and so be permitted to act, is another question. As 
such cabals have not existed in England, so neither has 
the spirit of them had any influence in establishing the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 87 

original frame of our constitution, or in any one of the 
several reparations and improvements it has undergone. 
The whole has been done under the auspices, and is con- 
firmed by the sanctions, of religion and piety. The whole 
has emanated from the simplicity of our national character, 
and from a sort of native plainness and directness of 
understanding, which for a long time characterized those 
men who have successively obtained authority amongst us. 
This disposition still remains; at least in the great body 
of the people. 

We know, and what is better, we feel inwardly, that 
religion is the basis of civil society, and the source of all 
good and of all comfort. 1 In England we are so con- 
vinced of this, that there is no rust of superstition, with 
which the accumulated absurdity of the human mind might 
have crusted it over in the course of ages, that ninety-nine 
in a hundred of the people of England would not prefer to 
impiety. We shall never be such fools as to call in an 
enemy to the substance of any system to remove its corrup- 
tions, to supply its defects, or to perfect its construction. 
If our religious tenets should ever want a further elucida- 
tion, we shall not call on atheism to explain them. We 
shall not light up our temple from that unhallowed fire. 
It will be illuminated with other lights. It will be per- 
fumed with other incense, than the infectious stuff which is 
imported by the smugglers of adulterated metaphysics. 
If our ecclesiastical establishment should want a revision, 
it is not avarice or rapacity, public or private, that we shall 
employ for the audit, or receipt, or application of its con- 
secrated revenue. Violently condemning neither the Greek 
nor the Armenian, nor, since heats are subsided, the 
Roman system of religion, we prefer the Protestant; not 
because we think it has less of the Christian religion In it, 
but because, in our judgment, it has more. We are Pro- 
testants, not from indifference, but from zeal. 

We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by his 

* Sit igitur hoc ab initio persuasum civibus, dominos esse omnium 
rerum ac moderatores, deos ; eaque, quse gerantur, eorum geri vi, 
ditione, ac numine ; eosdemque optime de genere hominum mereri ; et 
qualis quisque sit, quid agat, quid in se admittat, qua mente, qua 
pietate colat religiones intueri ; piorum et impiorurn habere rationem. 
His enlm rebus imbutae mentes haud sane abhorrebunt ab utili et a 
vera sententia. Cic. de Legibus, 1. 2. 



88 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, 
not only our reason, but our instincts; and that it cannot 
prevail long. But if s in the moment of riot, and In a 

drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the 
alembic of hell, which in France is now so furiously boil- 
ing, we should uncover our nakedness, by throwing off 
that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast 
and comfort, and one great source of civilization amongst 
us, and amongst many other nations, we are apprehensive 
(being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) 
that some uncouth, pernicious, and degrading superstition 
might take place of it. 

For that reason, before we take from our establishment 
the natural, human means of estimation, and give it up to 
contempt, as you have done, and in doing it have incurred 
the penalties you well deserve to suffer, we desire that some 
other may be presented to us in the place of it. We shall 
then form our judgment. 

On these ideas, instead of quarrelling with establish- 
ments, as some do, who have made a philosophy and a 
religion of their hostility to such institutions, we cleave 
closely to them. We are resolved to keep an established 
church, an established monarchy, an established aristo- 
cracy, and an established democracy, each in the degree it 
exists, and in no greater. I shall show you presently how 
much of each of these we possess. 

It has been the misfortune (not, as these gentlemen 
think it, the glory) of this age, that everything is to be 
discussed, as if the constitution of our country were to be 
always a subject rather of altercation, than enjoyment. 
For this reason, as well as for the satisfaction of those 
among you (if any such you have among you) who may 
wish to profit of examples, I venture to trouble you with 
a few thoughts upon each of these establishments. I do 
not think they were unwise in ancient Rome, who, when 
they wished to new-model their laws, set commissioners 
to examine the best constituted republics within their 
reach. 

First, I beg leave to speak of our church establishment, 
which is the first of our prejudices, not a prejudice desti- 
tute of reason, but involving in it profound and extensive 
wisdom. I speak of it first. It is first, and last, and 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 89 

midst in our minds. For, taking ground on that religious 
system, of which we are now In possession, we continue to 
act on the early received and uniformly continued sense of 
mankind. That sense not only, like a wise architect, hath 
built up the august fabric of states, but like a provident 
proprietor, to preserve the structure from profanation and 
ruin, as a sacred temple purged from all the impurities o! 
fraud, and violence, and Injustice, and tyranny, hath 
solemnly and for ever consecrated the commonwealth, and 
all that officiate in it. This consecration Is made, that all 
who administer In the government of men, In which they 
stand in the person of God Himself, should have high and 
worthy notions, of their function and destination; that their 
hope should be full of immortality; that they should not 
look to the paltry pelf of the moment, nor to the temporary 
and transient praise of the vulgar, but to a solid, perman- 
ent exercise, in the permanent part of their nature, and 
to a permanent fame and glory, In the example they leave 
as a rich inheritance to the world. 

Such sublime principles ought to be Infused into persons 
of exalted situations; and religious establishments pro- 
vided, that may continually revive and enforce them. 
Every sort of moral, every sort of civil, every sort of 
politic Institution, aiding the rational and natural ties that 
connect the human understanding and affections to the 
divine, are not more than necessary, in order to build up 
that wonderful structure, Man ; whose prerogative it Is, 
to be in a great degree a creature of his own making ; and 
who, when made as he ought to be made, Is destined 
to hold no trivial place in the creation. But whenever 
man is put over men, as the better nature ought ever to 
preside, in that case more particularly, he should as nearly 
as possible be approximated to his perfection. 

The consecration of the state, by a state religious estab- 
lishment, is necessary also to operate with a wholesome 
awe upon free citizens ; because, in order to secure their 
freedom, they must enjoy some determinate portion of 
power. To them therefore a religion connected with the 
state, and with their duty towards it, becomes even more 
necessary than in such societies, where the people, by the 
terms of their subjection, are confined to private senti- 
ments, and the management of their own family concerns. 
All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be 



9 o REFLECTIONS ON THE 

strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act 
in trust : and that they are to account for their conduct 
in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder 
of society. 

This principle ought even to be more strongly impressed 
upon the minds of those who compose the collective sover- 
eignty, than upon those of single princes. Without 
instruments, these princes can do nothing. Whoever uses 
instruments, in finding helps, finds also impediments. 
Their power is therefore by no means complete; nor are 
they safe in extreme abuse. Such persons, however 
elevated by flattery, arrogance, and self-opinion, must be 
sensible, that, whether covered or not by positive law, 
in some way or other they are accountable even here for 
the abuse of their trust. If they are not cut off by a 
rebellion of their people, they may be strangled by the 
very janissaries kept for their security against ail other 
rebellion. Thus we have seen the king of France sold by 
his soldiers for an increase of pay. But where popular 
authority is absolute and unrestrained, the people have an 
infinitely greater, because a far better founded, confidence 
in their own power. They are themselves, in a great 
measure, their own instruments. They are nearer to their 
objects. Besides, they are less under responsibility to 
one of the greatest controlling powers on earth, the sense 
of fame and estimation. The share of infamy, that is 
likely to fall to the lot of each individual in public acts, 
is small indeed ; the operation of opinion being in the 
inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power. 
Their own approbation of their own acts has to them the 
appearance of a public judgment in their favour. A per- 
fect democracy is therefore the most shameless thing in 
the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also the 
most fearless. No man apprehends in his person that he 
can be made subject to punishment. Certainly the people 
at large never ought : for as all punishments are for 
example towards the conservation of the people at large, 
the people at large can never become the subject of punish- 
ment by any human hand. 1 It is therefore of infinite 
importance that they should not be suffered to imagine 
that their will, any more than that of kings, is the standard 

* Qulcquid muftis peccatur inultum. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 91 

of right and wrong. They ought to be persuaded that 
they are full as little entitled, and far less qualified with 
safety to themselves, to use any arbitrary power what- 
soever; that therefore they are not, under a false show 
of liberty, but in truth, to exercise an unnatural, Inverted 
domination, tyrannically to exactj from those who officiate 
in the state, not an entire devotion to their Interest, which 
Is their right, but an abject submission to their occasional 
will ; extinguishing thereby, In all those who serve them, 
all moral principle, all sense of dignity, all use of judg- 
ment, and all consistency of character ; whilst by the very 
same process they give themselves up a proper, a suitable, 
but a most contemptible prey to the servile ambition of 
popular sycophants, or courtly flatterers. 

When the people have emptied themselves of all the 
lust of selfish will, which without religion it is utterly 
impossible they ever should, when they are conscious that 
they exercise, and exercise perhaps In a higher link of 
the order of delegation, the power, which to be legiti- 
mate must be according to that eternal. Immutable law, 
in which will and reason are the same, they will be more 
careful how they place power in base and incapable hands. 
In their nomination to office, they will not appoint to the 
exercise of authority, as to a pitiful job, but as to a holy 
function ; not according to their sordid, selfish interest, nor 
to their wanton caprice, nor to their arbitrary will; but 
they will confer that power (which any man may well 
tremble to give or to receive) on those only, in whom they 
may discern that predominant proportion of active virtue 
and wisdom, taken together and fitted to the charge, such, 
as In the great and inevitable mixed mass of human im- 
perfections and infirmities, is to be found. 

When they are habitually convinced that no evil can be 
acceptable, either In the act or the permission, to him 
whose essence is good, they will be better able to extirpate 
out of the minds of all magistrates, civil, ecclesiastical, or 
military, anything that bears the least resemblance to a 
proud and lawless domination. 

But one of the first and most leading principles ^on which 
the commonwealth and the laws are consecrated, Is lest the 
temporary possessors and life-renters in it, unmindful of 
what they have received from their ancestors, or of what 



9 2 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

is due to their posterity, should act as if they were the 
entire masters; that they should not think it among- their 
rights to cut off the entail, or commit waste on the inherit- 
ance, by destroying at their pleasure the whole original 
fabric of their society ; hazarding to leave to those who 
come after them a ruin instead of an habitation and teach- 
ing these successors as little to respect their contrivances, 
as they had themselves respected the institutions of their 
forefathers. By this unprincipled facility of changing the 
state as often, and as much, and in as many ways, as 
there are floating fancies or fashions, the whole chain and 
continuity of the commonwealth would be broken. No 
one generation could link with the other. Men would 
become little better than the flies of a summer. 

And first of all, the science of jurisprudence, the pride 
of the human intellect, which, with all its defects, redund- 
ancies, and errors, is the collected reason of ages, com- 
bining the principles of original justice with the infinite 
variety of human concerns, as a heap of old exploded 
errors, would be no longer studied. Personal self-suffi- 
ciency and arrogance (the certain attendants upon all those 
who have never experienced a wisdom greater than their 
own) would usurp the tribunal. Of course no certain laws, 
establishing invariable grounds of hope and fear, would 
keep the actions of men in a certain course, or direct them 
to a certain end. Nothing stable in the modes of holding 
property, or exercising function, could form a solid ground 
on which any parent could speculate in the education of 
his offspring, or in a choice for their future establishment 
in the world. No principles would be early worked into 
the habits. As soon as the most able instructor had com- 
pleted his laborious course of institution, instead of sending 
forth his pupil, accomplished in a virtuous discipline, fitted 
to procure him attention and respect, in his place in 
society, he would find everything altered ; and that he had 
turned out a poor creature to the contempt and derision of 
the world, ignorant of the true grounds of estimation. 
Who would insure a tender and delicate sense of honour 
to beat almost with the first pulses of the heart, when no 
man could know what would be the test of honour in a 
nation, continually varying the standard of its coin? No 
part of life would retain its acquisitions. Barbarism with 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 93 

regard to science and literature, unskilfulness with regard 
to arts and manufactures, would infallibly succeed to the 
want of a steady education and settled principle; and thus 
the commonwealth itself would, in a few generations, 
crumble away, be disconnected into the dust and powder of 
individuality, and at length dispersed to all the winds of 
heaven. 

To avoid therefore the evils of inconstancy and versa- 
tility, ten thousand times worse than those of obstinacy and 
the blindest prejudice, we have consecrated the state, that 
no man should approach to look into its defects or corrup- 
tions but with due caution; that he should never dream 
of beginning its reformation by its subversion; that he 
should approach to the faults of the state as to the wounds 
of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude. By 
this wise prejudice we are taught to look with horror on 
those children of their country, who are prompt rashly to 
hack that aged parent in pieces, and put him into the 
kettle of magicians, in hopes that by their .poisonous 
weeds, and wild incantations, they may regenerate the 
paternal constitution, and renovate their father r c life. 

Society is indeed a contract. Subordinate contracts for 
objects of mere occasional interest may be dissolved at 
pleasure but the state ought not to be considered as 
nothing better than a partnership agreement in a trade of 
pepper and coffee, calico or tobacco, or some other such 
low concern, to be taken up for a little temporary interest, 
and to be dissolved by the fancy of the parties. It is to 
be looked on with other reverence; because it is not a 
partnership in things subservient only to the gross animal 
existence of a temporary and perishable nature. It is a 
partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a part- 
nership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends 
of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many genera- 
tions, it becomes a partnership not only between those who 
are living, but between those who are living, those who 
are dead, and those who are to be born. Each contract of 
each particular state is but a clause in the great primaeval 
contract of eternal society, linking the lower with the 
higher natures, connecting the visible and invisible world, 
according to a fixed compact sanctioned by the inviolable 
oath which holds all physical and all moral natures, each 



94 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

in their appointed place. This law is not subject to the 
will of those, who by an obligation above them, and in- 
finitely superior, are bound to submit their will to that 
law. The municipal corporations of that universal king- 
dom are not morally at liberty at their pleasure, and on 
their speculations of a contingent improvement, wholly 
to separate and tear asunder the bands of their subordinate 
community, and to dissolve it into an unsocial, uncivil, 
unconnected chaos of elementary principles. It is the first 
and supreme necessity only, a necessity that is not chosen, 
but chooses, a necessity paramount to deliberation, that 
admits no discussion, and demands no evidence, which 
alone can justify a resort to anarchy. This necessity is no 
exception to the rule ; because this necessity itself is a part 
too of that moral and physical disposition of things, to 
which man must be obedient by consent or force : but if 
that which is only submission to necessity should be made 
the object of choice, the law is broken, nature is disobeyed, 
and the rebellious are outlawed, cast forth, and exiled, 
from this world of reason, and order, and peace, and virtue, 
and fruitful penitence, into the antagonist world of mad- 
ness, discord, vice, confusion, and unavailing sorrow. 

These, my dear Sir, are, were, and, I think, long will 
be, the sentiments of not the least learned and reflecting 
part of this kingdom. They, who are included in this 
description, form their opinions on such grounds as such 
persons ought to form them. The less inquiring receive 
them from an authority, which those whom Providence 
dooms to live on trust need not be ashamed to rely on. 
These two sorts of men move in the same direction, though 
in a different place. They both move with the order of 
the universe. They all know or feel this great ancient 
truth : " Quod illi principi et prsepotenti Deo qui omnem 
hunc mundum regit, nihil eorum quas quidem Bant in terris 
acceptius quam concilia et ccetus hominum jure sociati qua& 
civitates appellantur." They take this tenet of the head 
and heart, not from the great name which it immediately 
bears, nor from the greater from whence it is derived ; but 
from that which alone can give true weight and sanction 
to any learned opinion, the common nature and common 
relation of men. Persuaded that all things ought to be 
done with reference, and referring all to the point of refer- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 95 

ence to which all should be directed, they think themselves 
bound, not only as individuals in the sanctuary of the 
heart, or as congregated in that personal capacity, to 
renew the memory of their high origin and caste ; but also 
in their corporate character to perform their national 
homage to the institutor, and author, and protector of civil 
society ; without which civil society man could not by any 
possibility arrive at the perfection of which his nature is 
capable, nor even make a remote and faint approach to it. 
They conceive that He who gave our nature to be per- 
fected by our virtue, willed also the necessary means of 
its perfection. He willed therefore the state He willed 
its connexion with the source and original archetype of all 
perfection. They who are convinced of this His will, which 
is the law of laws, and the sovereign of sovereigns, can- 
not think it reprehensible that this our corporate fealty 
and homage, that this our recognition of a signiory para- 
mount, I had almost said this oblation of the state itself, 
as a worthy offering on the high altar of universal praise, 
should be performed as all public, solemn acts are per- 
formed, in buildings, in music, in decoration, in speech, 
in the dignity of persons, according to the customs of 
mankind, taught by their nature; this is, with modest 
splendour and unassuming state, with mild majesty and 
sober pomp. For those purposes they think some part 
of the wealth of the country is as usefully employed as it 
can be in fomenting the luxury of individuals. It is the 
public ornament. It is the public consolation. It 
nourishes the public hope. The poorest man finds his own 
importance and dignity in it, whilst the wealth and pride 
of individuals at every moment makes the man of humble 
rank and fortune sensible of his inferiority, and degrades 
and vilifies his condition. It is for the man In humble life, 
and to raise his nature, and to put him in mind of a state 
in which the privileges of opulence will cease, when he will 
be equal by nature, and may be more than equal by virtue, 
that this portion of the general wealth of his country is 
employed and sanctified. 

I assure you I do not aim at singularity. I give you 
opinions which have been accepted amongst us, from very 
early times to this moment, with a continued and genera! 
approbation, and which indeed are so worked into my 



96 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

mind, that I am unable to distinguish what I have learned 
from others from the results of my own meditation. 

It is on some such principles that the majority of the 
people of England, far from thinking" a religious national 
establishment unlawful, hardly think it lawful to be without 
one. In France you are wholly mistaken if you do not 
believers above all other things attached to it, and beyond 
all other nations ; and when this people has acted unwisely 
and unjustifiably in its favour (as in some instances they 
have done most certainly), in their very errors you will 
at least discover their zeal. 

This principle runs through the whole system of their 
polity. They do not consider their church establishment 
as convenient, but as essential to their state ; not as a thing- 
heterogeneous and separable ; something added for accom- 
modation ; what they may either keep or lay aside, accord- 
ing to their temporary ideas of convenience. They 
consider it as the foundation of their whole constitution, 
with which, and with every part of which, it holds an 
indissoluble union. Church and state are ideas insepar- 
able in their minds, and scarcely is the one ever mentioned 
without mentioning the other. 

Our education is so formed as to confirm and fix this 
impression. Our education is in a manner wholly in the 
hands of ecclesiastics, and in all stages from infancy to 
manhood. Even when our youth, leaving schools and 
universities, enter that most important period of life which 
begins to link experience and study together, and when 
with that view they visit other countries, instead of old 
domestics whom we have seen as governors to principal 
men from other parts, three-fourths of those who go abroad 
with our young nobility and gentlemen are ecclesiastics ; 
not as austere masters,* nor as mere followers ; but as 
friends and companions of a graver character, and not 
seldom persons as well born as themselves. With them, 
as relations, they most constantly keep up a close con- 
nexion through life. By this connexion we conceive that 
we attach our gentlemen to the church ; and we liberalize 
the church by an intercourse with the leading characters 
of the country. 

So tenacious are we of the old ecclesiastical modes and 
fashions of institution, that very little alteration has been 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 97 

made in them since the fourteenth or fifteenth century : 
adhering- in ythis particular, as in all thing's else, to our old 
settled maxim, never entirely nor at once' to depart from 
antiquity. We found these old institutions, on the whole, 
favourable to morality and discipline ; and we thought they 
were susceptible of amendment, without altering- the 
ground.^ We thought that they were capable of receiving 
and meliorating, and above all of preserving, the accessions 
of science and literature, as the order of Providence should 
successively produce them. And after all, with this Gothic 
and monkish education (for such it is in the ground-work) 
we may put in our claim to as ample and as early a share 
in all the^ improvements in science, in arts, and in litera- 
ture, which have illuminated and adorned the modern 
world, as any other nation in Europe : we think one main 
cause of this improvement was our not despising the patri- 
mony of knowledge which was left us by our forefathers. 

It is from our attachment to a church establishment, that 
the English nation did not think it wise to intrust that 
great, fundamental interest of the whole to what they trust 
no part of their civil or military public service, that is, 
to the unsteady and precarious contribution of individuals. 
They go further. They certainly never have suffered, and 
never will suffer, the fixed estate of the church to be con- 
verted into a pension, to depend on the treasury, and to be 
delayed, withheld, or perhaps to be extinguished, by fiscal 
difficulties : which difficulties may sometimes be pretended 
for political purposes, and are in fact often brought on by 
the extravagance, negligence, and rapacity of politicians. 
The people of England think that they have constitutional 
motives, as well as religious, against any project of turning 
their independent clergy into ecclesiastical pensioners of 
state. They tremble for their liberty, from the influence of 
a clergy dependent on the crown; they tremble for the 
public tranquillity from the disorders of a factious clergy, 
if it were made to depend upon any other than the crown. 
They therefore made their church, like their king and their 
nobility, independent. 

From the united considerations of religion and constitu- 
tional policy, from their opinion of a duty to make sure 
provision for the consolation of the feeble and the instruc- 
tion of the ignorant, they have incorporated and identified 



gS REFLECTIONS ON THE 

the estate of the church with the mass of private property^ 
of which the state is not the proprietor, either for use or 
dominion, but the guardian only and the regulator. The\ 
have ordained that the provision of this establishment 
might be as stable as the earth on which it stands, 
and should not fluctuate with the Euripus of funds and 
actions. 

The men of England, the men, I mean, of light and lead- 
ing in England, whose wisdom (if they have any) is open 
and direct, would be ashamed, as of a silly, deceitful trick, 
to profess any religion in name, which, by their proceed- 
ings, they appear to contemn. If by their conduct (the 
only language that rarely lies) they seemed to regard the 
great ruling principle of the moral and the natural world, 
as a mere invention to keep the vulgar in obedience, they 
apprehend that by such a conduct they would defeat the 
politic purpose they have in view. They would find it 
difficult to make others believe in a system to which they 
manifestly give no credit themselves. The Christian 
statesmen of this land would indeed first provide for the 
multitude; because it is the multitude; and is therefore, 
as such, the first object in the ecclesiastical institution, and 
in all institutions. They have been taught, that the 
circumstance of the gospel's being preached to the poor, 
was one of the great tests of its true mission. They think, 
therefore, that those do not believe it, who do not take care 
it should be preached to the poor. But as they know that 
charity is not confined to any one description, but ought 
to apply itself to all men who have wants, they are not 
deprived of a due and anxious sensation of pity to the 
distresses of the miserable great. They are not repelled 
through a fastidious delicacy, at the stench of their arro- 
gance and presumption, from a medicinal attention to 
their mental blotches and running sores. They are 
sensible, that religious instruction Is of more consequence 
to them than to any others; from the greatness of the 
temptation to which they are exposed; from the important 
consequences that attend their faults ; from the contagion 
of their ill example; from the necessity of bowing down 
the stubborn neck of their pride and ambition to the yoke 
of moderation and virtue ; from a consideration of the fat 
stupidity and gross ignorance concerning what imports 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 99 

men most to know, which prevails at courts, and at the 
head of armies, and in senates, as much as at the loom and 
In the field. 

The English people are satisfied, that to the great the 
consolations of religion are as necessary as its instructions 
They too are among the unhappy. They feel personal 
pain, and domestic sorrow. In these they have no privi- 
lege, ^ but are subject to pay their full contingent to the 
contributions levied on mortality. They want this sove- 
reign balm under their gnawing cares and anxieties, which, 
being less conversant about the limited wants of animal 
life, range without limit, and are diversified by infinite 
combinations, in the wild and unbounded regions of 
imagination. Some charitable dole is wanting to these, 
our often very unhappy brethren, to fill the gloomy void 
that reigns in minds which have nothing on earth to hope 
or fear; something to relieve in the killing languor and 
over-laboured lassitude of those who have nothing to do ; 
something to excite an appetite to existence in the palled 
satiety which attends on all pleasures which may be 
bought, where nature is not left to her own process, where 
even desire is anticipated, and therefore fruition defeated 
by meditated schemes and contrivances of delight and no 
interval, no obstacle, is interposed between the wish and 
the accomplishment. 

The people of England know how little influence the 
teachers of religion are likely to have with the wealthy and 
powerful of long standing, and how much less with the 
newly fortunate, if they appear in a manner no way 
assorted to those with whom they must associate, and over 
whom they must even exercise, in some cases, something 
like an authority. What must they think of that body of 
teachers, if they see it in no part above the establishment 
of their domestic servants? If the poverty were voluntary, 
there might be some difference. Strong instances of self- 
denial operate powerfully on our minds; and a man who 
has no wants has obtained great freedom, and firmness, 
and even dignity. But as the mass of any description of 
men are but men, and their poverty cannot be voluntary, 
that disrespect, which attends upon all lay poverty, will 
not depart from the ecclesiastical. Our provident consti- 
tution has therefore taken care that those who are to 



ioo REFLECTIONS ON THE 

instruct presumptuous ignorance, those who are to be 

censors over insolent vice, should neither incur their con- 
tempt, nor live upon their alms ; nor will it tempt the rich 
1 to a neglect of the true medicine of their minds. For these 
reasons, whilst we provide first for the poor, and with a 
parental solicitude, we have not relegated religion (like 
something we were ashamed to show) to obscure munici- 
palities, or rustic villages. No ! we will have her to exalt 
her mitred front in courts and parliaments. We will have 
her mixed throughout the whole mass of life, and blended 
with all the classes of society. The people of England will 
show to the haughty potentates of the world, and to their 
talking sophisters, that a free, a generous, an informed 
nation honours the high magistrates of its church: that it 
will not suffer the insolence of wealth and titles, or any 
other species of proud pretension, to look down with scorn 
upon what they look up to with reverence ; nor presume to 
trample on that acquired personal nobility, which they 
intend always to be, and which often is, the fruit, not 
the reward (for what can be the reward?) of learning, 
piety, and virtue. They can see, without pain or grudg- 
ing, an archbishop precede a duke. They can see a bishop 
of Durham, or a bishop of Winchester, in possession of 
ten thousand pounds a year ; and cannot conceive why it is 
in worse hands than estates to the like amount in the hands 
of this earl, or that squire ; although it may be true, that 
so many dogs and horses are not kept by the former, and 
fed with the victuals which ought to nourish the children 
of the people. It is true, the whole church revenue is not 
always employed, and to every shilling, in charity; nor 
perhaps ought it; but something is generally so em- 
ployed. It is better to cherish virtue and humanity, by 
leaving much to free will, even with some loss to the 
object, than to attempt to make men mere machines and 
instruments of a political benevolence. The- world on the 
whole will gain by a liberty > without which virtue cannot 
exist. 

When once the commonwealth has established the estates 
of the church as property, It can, consistently, hear nothing 
of the more or the less. Too much and too little are 
treason against property. What evil can arise from the 
quantity in any hand, whilst the supreme authority has the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE joi 

full, sovereign superintendence over this, as over all pro- 
perty, to prevent every species of abuse; and, whenever It 
notably deviates, to give to It a direction agreeable to the 
purposes of its institution. 

In England most of us conceive that it is envy and 
malignity towards those who are often the beginners oi 
their_own fortune, and not a love of the self-denial and 
mortification of the ancient church, that makes some look 
askance at the distinctions, and honours, and revenues, 
which, taken from no person, are set apart for virtue" 
The ears of the people of England are distinguishing. 
They hear these men speak broad. Their tongue betrays 
them. Their language is in the patois of fraud; m the 
cant and gibberish of hypocrisy. The people of England 
must think so, when these praters affect to carry back thr 
clergy to that primitive, evangelic poverty, which, in the 
spirit, ought always to exist in them (and* in us too, how- 
ever we may like it), but in the thing must be varied, when 
the relation of that body to the state is altered; when 
manners, when modes of life, when indeed the whole order 
of human affairs, has undergone a total revolution, \<Ye 
shall believe those reformers then to be honest enthusiasts, 
not, as now we think them, cheats and deceivers, when 
we see them throwing their own goods into common, and 
submitting their own persons to the austere discipline of 
the early church. 

With these ideas rooted in their minds, the Commons 
of Great Britain, in the national emergenci-es, will never 
seek their resource from the confiscation of the estates 
of the church and poor. Sacrilege and proscription are 
not among the ways and means of our committee of supply. 
The Jews in Change Alley have not yet dared to hint 'their 
hopes of a mortgage on the revenues belonging to the see 
of Canterbury. I am not afraid that I shall be disavowed, 
when I assure you, that there is not one public man in 
this kingdom, whom you would wish to quote, no not 
one, of any party or description, who does not reprobate 
the dishonest, perfidious, and cruel confiscation which the 
National Assembly has been compelled to make of that 
property, which it was their first duty to protect. 

It is with the exultation of a little" national pride ! tell 
you, that those amongst us who have wished to pledge the 



102 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

societies of Paris In the cup of their abominations have 
been disappointed. The robbery of your church has proved 
a security to the possessions of ours. It has roused the 
people. They see with horror and alarm that enormous 
and shameless act of proscription. It has opened, and 
will more and more open, their eyes upon the selfish en- 
largement of mind, and the narrow liberality of sentiment, 
of insidious men, which, commencing in close hypocrisy 
and fraud, have ended in open violence and rapine. At 
home we behold similar beginnings. We are on our guard 
against similar conclusions. 

I hope we shall never be so totally lost to all sense of the 
duties imposed upon us by the law of social union, as, upon 
any pretext of public service, to confiscate the goods of a 
single unoffending citizen. Who but a tyrant (a name 
expressive of everything which can vitiate and degrade 
human nature) could think of seizing on the property of 
men, unaccused, unheard, untried, by whole descriptions, 
by hundreds and thousands together? Who, that had not 
lost every trace of humanity, could think of casting down 
men of exalted rank and sacred function, some of them of 
an age to call at once for reverence and compassion, of 
casting them down from the highest situation in the com- 
monwealth, wherein they were maintained by their own 
landed property, to a state of indigence, depression, and 
contempt ? 

The confiscators truly have made some allowance to 
their victims from the scraps and fragments of their own 
tables, from which they have been so harshly driven, and 
which have been so bountifully spread for a feast to the 
harpies of usury. But to drive men from independence to 
live on alms, is itself great cruelty. That which might 
be a tolerable condition to men in one state of life, and 
not habituated to other things, may, when all these circum- 
stances are altered, be a dreadful revolution; and one to 
which a virtuous mind would feel pain in condemning any 
guilt, except that which would demand the life of the 
offender. But to many minds this punishment of degra- 
dation and infamy is worse than death. Undoubtedly it 
is an infinite aggravation of this cruel suffering, that the 
persons who were taught a double prejudice in favour of 
religion, by education, and by the place they held in the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 103 

administration of its functions, are to receive the remnants 
of their property as alms from the profane and impious 
hands of those who had plundered them of all the rest; 
to receive (if they are at all to receive) not from the charit- 
able contributions of the faithful, but from the insolent 
tenderness of known and avowed atheism, the maintenance 
of religion, measured out to them on the standard of the 
contempt in which it is held ; and for the purpose of render- 
ing those who receive the allowance vile and of no estima- 
tion in the eyes of mankind. 

But this act of seizure of property, it seems, is a judg- 
ment in law, and not a confiscation. They have, it seems, 
found out in the academies of the Palais Royal, and the 
Jacobins, that certain men had no right to the possessions 
which they held under law, usage, the decisions of courts, 
and the accumulated prescription of a thousand years. 
They say that ecclesiastics are fictitious persons, creatures 
of the state, whom at pleasure they may destroy, and of 
course limit and modify in every particular ; that the goods 
they possess are not properly theirs, but belong to the 
state which created the fiction; and we are therefore not 
to trouble ourselves with what they may suffer in their 
natural feelings and natural persons, on account of what 
is done towards them in this their constructive character. 
Of what import is it under what names you injure men, 
and deprive them of the just emoluments of a profession, 
in which they were not only permitted but encouraged by 
the state to engage; and upon the supposed certainty of 
which emoluments they had formed the plan of their lives, 
contracted debts, and led multitudes to an entire depend- 
ence upon them? 

You do not imagine, Sir, that I am going to compliment 
this miserable distinction of persons with any long discus- 
sion. The arguments of tyranny are as contemptible as 
its force is dreadful. Had not your confiscators, by their 
early crimes, obtained a power which secures indemnity to 
all the crimes of which they have since been guilty, or that 
they can commit, it is not the syllogism of the logician, but 
the lash of the executioner, that would have refuted a 
sophistry which becomes an accomplice of theft and 
murder. The sophistic tyrants of Paris are loud in their 
declamations against the departed regal tyrants, who in 



104 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

former ages have vexed the world. They are thus bold, 
because they are safe from the dungeons and iron cages 
of their old masters. Shall we be more tender of the 
tyrants of our own time, when we see them acting worse 
tragedies under our eyes ? shall we not use the same liberty 
that they do, when we can use it with the same safety? 
when to speak honest truth only requires a contempt of 
the opinions of those whose actions we abhor? 

This outrage on all the rights of property was at first 
covered with what, on the system of their conduct, was the 
most astonishing of all pretexts a regard to national 
faith. The enemies to property at first pretended a most 
tender, delicate, and scrupulous anxiety for keeping the 
king's engagements with the public creditor. These pro- 
fessors of the rights of men are so busy in teaching others, 
that they have not leisure to learn anything themselves ; 
otherwise they would have known, that it is to the property 
of the citizen, and not to the demands of the creditor of 
the state, that the first and original faith of civil society 
is pledged. The claim of the citizen is prior in time, para- 
mount in title, superior in equity. The fortunes of indi- 
viduals, whether possessed by acquisition, or by descent, 
or in virtue of a participation in the goods of some com- 
munity, were no part of the creditor's security, expressed 
or implied. They never so much as entered into his head 
when he made his bargain. He well knew that the public, 
whether represented by a monarch or by a senate, can 
pledge nothing but the public estate; and it can have no 
public estate, except in what it derives from a. just and 
proportioned imposition upon the citizens at large. This 
was engaged, and nothing else could be engaged, to the 
public creditor. No man can mortgage his injustice as a 
pawn for his fidelity. 

It is impossible to avoid some observation on the contra- 
dictions caused by the extreme rigour and the extreme 
laxity of this new public faith, which influenced in this 
transaction, and which influenced not according to the 
nature of the obligation, but to the description of the 
persons to whom it was engaged. No acts of the old 
government of the kings of France are held valid in the 
National Assembly, except his pecuniary engagements; 
acts of all others of the most ambiguous legality. The rest 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 105 

of the acts of that royal government are considered in so 
odious a light, that to have a claim under its authority is 
looked on as a sort of crime. A pension , given as a rev.-ard 
for service to the state, is surely as good a ground of 
property as any security for money advanced to the state. 
It is better; for money is paid, and well paid, to obtain 
that service. We have however seen multitudes of people 
under this description in France, who never had been 
deprived of their allowances by the most arbitrary 
ministers, in the most arbitrary times, by this assembly 
of the^ rights of men, robbed without mercy. They were 
told, in answer to their claim to the bread earned with 
their blood, that their services had not been rendered to the 
country that now exists. 

This laxity of public faith is not confined to those unfor- 
tunate persons. The Assembly, with perfect consistency 
it must be owned, is engaged in a respectable deliberation 
how far it is bound by the treaties made with other nations 
under the former government, and their committee is to 
report which of them they ought to ratify, and which not. 
By this means they have put the external fidelity of this 
virgin state on a par with its internal. 

It is not easy to conceive upon what rational principle 
the royal government should not, of the two, rather hiive 
possessed the power of rewarding service, and making 
treaties, in virtue of its prerogative, than that of pledging 
to creditors the revenue of the state, actual and possible. 
The treasure of the nation, of all things, has been the least 
allowed to the prerogative of the king of France, or to 
the prerogative of any king in Europe. To mortgage the 
public revenue implies the sovereign dominion, in the 
fullest sense, over the public purse. It goes far beyond 
the trust even of a temporary and occasional taxation. 
The acts however of that dangerous power (the distinctive 
mark of a boundless despotism) have been alone held 
sacred. Whence arose this preference given by a demo- 
cratic assembly to a body of property deriving its title 
from the most critical and obnoxious of all the exertions of 
monarchical authority? Reason can furnish nothing to 
reconcile inconsistency ; nor can partial favour be 
accounted for upon equitable principles. But the contra- 
diction and partiality which admit no justification, are not 



106 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

the less without an adequate cause ; and that cause I do not 
think it difficult to discover. 

By the vast debt of France a great monied interest has 
insensibly grown up, and with it a great power. By the 
ancient usages which prevailed in that kingdom, the 
general circulation of property and in particular the mutual 
convertibility of land into money, and of money into land, 
had always been a matter of difficulty. Family settle- 
ments, rather more general and more strict than they are 
in England, the jus retractus, the great mass of landed 
property held by the crown, and, by a maxim of the French 
law, held unalienably, the vast estates of the ecclesiastic 
corporations, all these had kept the landed and monied 
interests more separated in France, less miscible, and the 
owners of the two distinct species of property not so well 
disposed to each other as they are in this country. 

The monied property was long looked on with rather an 
evil eye by the people. They saw it connected with their 
distresses, and aggravating them. It was no less envied 
by Ae old landed interests, partly for the same reasons 
that rendered it obnoxious to the people, but much more so 
as it eclipsed, by the splendour of an ostentatious luxury, 
the unendowed pedigrees and naked titles of several among 
the nobility. Even when the nobility, which represented the 
more permanent landed interest, united themselves by mar- 
riage (which sometimes was the case) with the other 
description, the wealth which saved the family from ruin, 
was supposed to contaminate and degrade it. Thus the 
enmities and heart-burnings of these parties were increased 
even by the usual means by which discord is made to 
cease and quarrels are turned into friendship. In the mean 
time, the pride of the wealthy men, not noble or newly 
noble, increased with its cause. They felt with resentment 
an Inferiority, the grounds of which they did not acknow- 
ledge. There was no measure to which they were not 
willing to lend^themselves, in order to be revenged of the 
outrages of this rival pride, and to exalt their wealth to 
what they considered as its natural rank and estimation. 
They struck at the nobility through the crown and the 
church. They attacked them particularly on the side on 
which they thought them the most vulnerable, that is, the 
possessions of the church, which, through the patronage of 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 107 

the crown, generally devolved upon the nobility. The 
bishoprics, and the great commendatory abbeys, were, with 
few exceptions, held by that order. 

In this state of real, though not always perceived, war- 
fare between the noble ancient landed interest and the ne-w 
monied interest, the greatest because the most applicable 
strength was in the hands of the latter. The monied 
interest is in its nature more ready for any adventure; and 
its possessors more disposed to new enterprises of any 
kind. Being of a recent acquisition, it falls in more 
naturally with any novelties. It is therefore the kind of 
wealth which will be resorted to by all who wish for 
change. 

Along with the monied interest, a new description of 
men had grown up, with whom that interest soon formed 
a close and marked union; I mean the political men of 
letters. Men of letters, fond of distinguishing themselves, 
are rarely averse to innovation. Since the decline of the 
life and greatness of Louis the Fourteenth, they were not 
so much cultivated either by him, or by the regent, or the 
successors to the crown ; nor were they engaged to the 
court by favours and emoluments so systematically as 
during the splendid period of that ostentatious and not 
impolitic reign. What they lost in the old court protec- 
tion, they endeavoured to make up by joining in a sort of 
incorporation of their own ; to which the two academies 
of France, and afterwards the vast undertaking of the 
Encyclopasdia, carried on by a society of these gentlemen, 
did not a little contribute. 

The literary cabal had some years ago formed something- 
like a regular plan for the destruction of the Christian 
religion. This object they pursued with a degree of zeal 
which hitherto had been discovered only in the propagators 
of some system of piety. They were possessed with a 
spirit of proselytism in the most fanatical degree; and 
from thence, by an easy progress, with the spirit of perse- 
cution according to their means. 1 What was not to be 
done towards their great end by any direct or immediate 
act, might be wrought by a longer process through the 

1 This (down to the end of the first sentence in the next paragraph) 
and some other parts here and there, were inserted, on his reading the 
manuscript, by my lost Son. 



io8 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

medium of opinion. To command that opinion, the first 
step is to establish a dominion over those who direct it. 
They contrived to possess themselves, with great method 
and perseverance, of all the avenues to literary fame. 
Many of them indeed stood high in the ranks of literature 
and science. The world had done them justice ; and in 
favour of general talents forgave the evil tendency of their 
peculiar principles. This was true liberality; which they 
returned by endeavouring to confine the reputation of 
sense, learning, and taste to themselves or their followers. 
I will venture to say that this narrow, exclusive spirit has 
not been less prejudicial to literature and to taste, than 
to morals and true philosophy. These atheistical fathers 
have a bigotry of their own; and they have learnt to talk 
against monks with the spirit of a monk. But in some 
things they are men of the world. The resources of 
intrigue are called in to supply the defects of argument and 
wit. To this system of literary monopoly was joined an 
unremitting industry to blacken and discredit in every way, 
and by every means, all those who did not hold to their 
faction. To those who have observed the spirit of their 
conduct, it has long been clear that nothing was wanted 
but the power of carrying the intolerance of the tongue 
and of the pen into a persecution which would strike at 
property, liberty, and life. 

The desultory and faint persecution carried on against 
them, more from compliance with form and decency, than 
with serious resentment, neither weakened their strength, 
nor relaxed their efforts. The issue of the whole was, 
that, what with opposition, and what with success, a 
violent and malignant zeal, of a kind hitherto unknown in 
the xvorld, had taken an entire possession of their minds, 
and rendered their whole conversation, which otherwise 
would have been pleasing and instructive, perfectly disgust- 
ing. A spirit of cabal, intrigue, and proselytism, pervaded 
all their thoughts, words, and actions. And, as contro- 
versial zeal soon turns its thoughts on force, they began 
to insinuate themselves into a correspondence with foreign 
princes; in hopes, through their authority, which at first 
they flattered, they might bring about the changes they 
had in view. To them it was indifferent whether these 
changes were to be accomplished by the thunderbolt of 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 109 

despotism, or by the earthquake of popular commotion. 
The correspondence between this cabal and the late king 
of Prussia will throw no small light upon the spirit of all 
their proceedings. 1 For the same purpose for which they 
intrigued with princes, they cultivated, in a distinguished 
manner, the monied interest of France ; and partly through 
the means furnished by those whose peculiar offices gave 
them the most extensive and certain means of communica- 
tion, they carefully occupied all the avenues to opinion. 

Writers, especially when they act in a body, and with 
one direction, have great influence on the public mind ; the 
alliance, therefore, of these writers with the monied in- 
terest 2 had no small effect in removing the popular odium 
and envy which attended that species of wealth. These 
writers, like the propagators of all novelties, pretended to 
a great zeal for the poor, and the lower orders, whilst in 
their satires they rendered hateful, by every exaggeration, 
the faults of courts, of nobility, and of priesthood. They 
became a sort of demagogues. They served as a link to 
unite, in favour of one object, obnoxious wealth to restless 
and desperate poverty. 

As these two kinds of men appear principal leaders in 
all the late transactions, their junction and politics will 
serve to account, not upon any principles of law or of 
policy, but as a cause, for the general fury with which all 
the landed property of ecclesiastical corporations has been 
attacked; and the great care which, contrary to their pre- 
tended principles, has been taken, of a monied interest 
originating from the authority of the crown. All the envy 
against wealth and power was artificially directed against 
other descriptions of riches. On what other principle than 
that which I have stated can we account for an appearance 
so extraordinary and unnatural as that of the ecclesiastical 
possessions, which had stood so many successions of ages 
and shocks of civil violences, and were girded at once by 
justice, and by prejudice, being applied to the payment of 
debts, comparatively recent, invidious, and contracted by 
a decried and subverted government? 

1 I do not choose to shock the feeling of the moral reader with any 
quotation of their vulgar, base, and profane language. 

2 Their connexion with Turgot and almost all the people of the 
finance. 



no REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Was the public estate a sufficient stake for the public 
debts? Assume that it was not, and that a loss must be 
incurred somewhere When the only estate lawfully pos- 
sessed, and which the contracting* parties had in contem- 
plation at the time in which their bargain was made, 
happens to fail, who according to the principles of natural 
and legal equity, ought to be the sufferer? Certainly it 
ought to be either the party who trusted, or the party who 
persuaded him to trust ; or both ; and not third parties who 
had no concern with the transaction. Upon any insol- 
vency they ought to suffer who are weak enough to lend 
upon bad security, or they who fraudulently held out a 
security that was not valid. Laws are acquainted with no 
other rules of decision. But by the new institute of the 
rights of men, the only persons, who in equity ought to 
suffer, are the only persons who are to be saved harmless : 
those are to answer the debt who neither were lenders nor 
borrowers, mortgagers nor mortgagees. 

What had the clergy to do with these transactions? 
\Vhat had they to do with any public engagement further 
than the extent of their own debt? To that, to be sure, 
their estates were bound to the last acre. Nothing can 
tead more to the true spirit of the Assembly, which fits 
for public confiscation, with its new equity, and its new 
morality, than an attention to their proceeding with regard 
to this debt of the clergy. The body of confiscators, true 
to that monied interest for which they were false to every 
other, have found the clergy competent to incur a legal 
debt Of course they declared them legally entitled to the 
property which their power of incurring the debt and mort- 
gaging the estate implied ; recognizing the rights of those 
persecuted citizens, in the very act in which they were thus 
grossly violated. 

If, as I said, any persons are to make good deficiencies 
to the public creditor, besides the public at large, they 
must be those who managed the agreement. Why there- 
fore are not the estates of all the comptrollers-general 
confiscated ? * Why not those of the long succession of 
ministers, financiers, and bankers who have been enriched 
whilst the nation was impoverished by their dealings and 
their counsels? Why is not the estate of M. Laborde 
1 All have been confiscated in their turn. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE in 

declared forfeited rather than of the archbishop of Paris, 
who has had nothing tc do in the creation or in the jobbing 
of the public funds? Or, if you must confiscate old landed 
estates in favour of the money-jobbers, why is the penalty 
confined to one description? I do not know whether the 
expenses of the Duke de Choiseul have left anything of the 
infinite sums which he had derived from the bounty of 
his master, during the transactions of a reign which con- 
tributed largely by every species of prodigality in war and 
peace, to the present debt of France. If any such remains, 
why is not this confiscated? 1 remember to have been 
in Paris during tbe time of the old government. I was 
there just after the Duke d'Aiguillon had been snatched 
(as it was generally thought) from the block by the hand of 
a protecting despotism. He was a minister, and had some 
concern in the affairs of that prodigal period. Why do I 
not see his estate delivered up to the municipalities in 
which it is situated? The noble family of Noailles have 
long been servants (meritorious servants I admit) to the 
crown of France, and have had of course some share in its 
bounties. Why do I hear nothing of the application of 
their estates to the public debt? Why is the estate of 
the Duke de Rochefoucault more sacred than that of the 
Cardinal de Rochefoucault? The former is, I doubt not, a 
worthy person ; and (if it were not a sort of profaneness to 
talk of the use, as affecting the title to property) he makes 
a good use of his revenues ; but it is no disrespect to him 
to say, what authentic information well warrants me in 
saying, that the use made of a property equally valid, by 
his brother l the cardinal archbishop of Rouen, was far 
more laudable and far more public-spirited. Can one hear 
of the proscription of such persons, and the confiscation 
of their effects, without indignation and horror? He is 
not a man who does not feel such emotions on such occa- 
sions. He does not deserve the name of a free-man who 
will not express them. 

Few barbarous conquerors have ever made so terrible a 
revolution in property. None of the heads of the Roman 
factions, when they established " crudelem illam Jiastam " 
in all their auctions of rapine, have ever set up to sale the 

1 Not his brother, nor any near relation ; but this mistake does not 
affect the argument. 



ii2 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

goods of the conquered citizen to such an enormous 
amount. It must be allowed in favour of those tyrants of 
antiquity, that what was done by them could hardly be 
said to be done in cold blood. Their passions were in- 
flamed, their tempers soured, their understandings con- 
fused, with the spirit of revenge, with the innumerable 
reciprocated and recent inflictions and retaliations of blood 
and rapine. They were driven beyond all bounds of 
moderation by the apprehension of the return of power 
with the return of property, to the families of those they 
had injured beyond all hope of forgiveness. 

These Roman connscators, who were yet only in the 
elements of tyranny, and were not instructed in the rights 
of men to exercise all sorts of cruelties on each other with- 
out provocation, thought it necessary to spread a sort of 
colour over their injustice. They considered the van- 
quished party as composed of traitors who had borne arms, 
or otherwise had acted with hostility, against the common- 
wealth. They regarded them as persons who had forfeited 
their property by their crimes. With you, in your im- 
proved state of the human mind, there was no such 
formality. You seized upon five millions sterling of annual 
rent, and turned forty or fifty thousand human creatures 
out of their houses, because "such was your pleasure." 
The tyrant Harry the Eighth of England, as he was not 
better enlightened than the Roman Mariuses and Syllas, 
and had not studied in your new schools, did not know 
what an effectual instrument of despotism was to be found 
in that grand magazine of offensive weapons, the rights 
of men. When he resolved to rob the abbeys, as the club 
of the Jacobins have robbed all the ecclesiastics, he began 
by setting on foot a commission to examine into the crimes 
and abuses which prevailed in those communities. As it 
might be expected, his commission reported truths, exag- 
gerations, and falsehoods. But truly or falsely r it reported 
abuses and offences. However, as abuses might be cor- 
rected, as every crime of persons does not infer a forfeiture 
with regard to communities, and as property, in that dark 
age, was not discovered to be a creature of prejudice, all 
those abuses (and there were enow of them) were hardly 
thought sufficient ground for such a confiscation as it was 
for his purpose to make. He therefore procured the formal 
surrender of thes estates. All these operose proceedings 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 113 

were adopted by one of the most decided tyrants in the 
rolls of history, as necessary preliminaries, before he could 
venture, by bribing- the members of his two servile houses 
with a share of the spoil, and holding" out to them an 
eternal immunity from taxation, to demand a confirmation 
of his iniquitous proceeding's by an act of parliament. Had 
fate reserved him to our times, four technical terms would 
have done his business, and saved him all this trouble ; 
he needed nothing more than one short form of incanta- 
tion "Philosophy, Light, Liberality, the Rights of Men." 
I can say nothing- in praise of those acts of tyranny, 
which no voice has hitherto ever commended under any of 
their false colours; yet in these false colours an homage 
was paid by despotism to justice. The power which was 
above all fear and all remorse was not set above all shame. 
Whilst shame keeps its watch, virtue is not wholly extin- 
guished in the heart ; nor will moderation be utterly exiled 
from the minds of tyrants. 

I believe every honest man sympathizes in his reflec- 
tions with our political poet on that occasion, and will pray 
to avert the omen whenever these acts of rapacious despot- 
ism present themselves to his view or his imagination : 

'* May no such storm 
Fall on our times, where ruin must reform, 
Tel! me (rny Muse) what monstrous dire offence, 
What crimes could any Christian king incense 
To such a rage? Was't luxury, or lust? 
Was he so temperate, so chaste, so just? 
Were these their crimes? they were his own much more, 
But wealth is crime enough to him that's poor," X- 

1 The rest of the passage is this 

"Who having spent the treasures of his crown, 
Condemns their luxury to feed his own. 
And yet this act, to varnish o'er the shame 
Of sacrilege, must bear devotion's name. 
No crime so bold, but would be understood 
A real, or at least a seeming good ; 
Who fears not to do ill, yet fears the name, 
And, free from conscience, is a slave to fame.^ 
Thus he the church at once protects, and spoils; 
But princes' swords are sharper than their styles. 
And thus to th* ages past he makes amends, 
Their charity destroys, their faith defends. 
Then did religion in a lazy cell, 
In empty aery contemplation dwell ; 
And, like the block, unmoved lay ; but ours, 
As much too active, like the stork devours. 



ii4 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

This same wealth, which is at all times treason and Use 
nation to indigent and rapacious despotism, under all 
modes of polity, was your temptation to violate property, 
law, and religion, united in one object. But was the state 
of France so wretched and undone, that no other resource 
but rapine remained to preserve its existence? On this 
point I wish to receive some information. When the states 
met, was the condition of the finances of France such, 
that, after economizing on principles of justice and mercy 
through all departments, no fair repartition of burthens 
upon all the orders could possibly restore them? If such 
an equal imposition would have been sufficient, you well 
know it might easily have been made. M. Necker, in the 
budget which he laid before the orders assembled at Ver- 
sailles, made a detailed exposition of the state of the 
French nation. 1 

If we give credit to him, it was not necessary to have 
recourse to any new impositions whatsoever, to put the 
receipts of France on a balance with its expenses. He 
stated the permanent charges of all descriptions, including 
the interest of a new loan of four hundred millions, at 
531,444,000 livres; the fixed revenue at 475,294,000, mak- 
ing the deficiency 56,150,000, or short of ^2,200,000. 
But to balance it, he brought forward savings and improve- 

Is there no temperate region can be known, 

Betwixt their frigid and our torrid zone? 

Could we not wake from that lethargic dream, 

But to be restless In a worse extreme? 

And for tnat lethargy was there no cure, 

But to be cast Into a calenture ; 

Can knowledge have no bound, but must advance 

So far, to make us wish for ignorance? 

And rather In the dark to grope our way, 

Than, led by a false guide, to err by day? 

Who sees these dismal heaps, but would demand, 

What barbarous invader sacked the land? 

But when he hears, no Goth, no Turk did bring 

This desolation, but a Christian king ; 

When nothing, but the name of zeal, appears 

'Twlxt our best actions and the worst of theirs, 

What does he think our sacrilege would spare, 

When such th j effects of our devotion are?" 

COOPER'S HILL, by Sir JOHN DENHAM. 

i Rapport de Mons. le Dirccteur-Gne"ral des Finances, fait par ordre 
du Rol a Versailles. Mai 5, 1789. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 115 

ments of revenue (considered as entirely certain) to rather 
more than the amount of that deficiency ; and he concludes 
with these emphaticai words (p. 39), "Quel pays, Mes- 
sieurs, que celui, ou, sans impots et avec de simples objets 
inappergus, on peut faire disparoitre un deficit qui a fait 
tant^de bruit en Europe." As to the reimbursement, the 
sinking- of debt, and the other great objects of public 
credit and political arrangement indicated in Mons. 
Necker's speech, no doubt could be entertained, but that 
a^ very moderate and proportioned assessment on the 
citizens without distinction would have provided for all 
of them to the fullest extent of their demand. 

If this representation of Mons. Necker was false, then 
the Assembly are in the highest degree culpable for having 
forced the king to accept as his minister, and since the 
king's deposition, for having employed, as their minister, 
a man who had been capable of abusing so notoriously 
the confidence of his master and their own; in a matter 
too of the highest moment, and directly appertaining to 
his particular office. But if the representation was exact 
(as having always, along with you, conceived a high 
degree of respect for M. Necker, I make no doubt it was), 
then what can be said in favour of those, who, instead of 
moderate, reasonable, and general contribution, have in 
cold blood, and impelled by no necessity, had recourse to 
a partial and cruel confiscation? 

Was that contribution refused on a pretext of privilege, 
either on the part of the clergy, or on that of the nobility? 
No, certainly. As to the clergy, they even ran before the 
wishes of the third order. Previous to the meeting of the 
states, they had in all their instructions expressly directed 
their deputies to renounce every immunity, which put 
them upon a footing distinct from the condition of their 
fellow-subjects. In this renunciation the clergy were even 
more explicit than the nobility. 

But let us suppose that the deficiency had remained at 
the fifty-six millions (or ^2,200,000 sterling), as at first 
stated by M. Necker. Let us allow that all the resources 
he opposed to that deficiency were impudent and ground- 
less fictions; and that the Assembly (or their lords of 
articles l at the Jacobins) were from thence justified in 

1 In the constitution of Scotland, during the Stuart reigns, a com- 



n6 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

laying the whole burthen of that deficiency on the clergy, 
yet allowing all this, a necessity of ^2,200,000 sterling 
will not support a confiscation to the amount of five mil- 
lions. The imposition of ^2,200,000 on the clergy, as 
partial, would have been oppressive and unjust^ but it 
would not have been altogether ruinous to those on whom 
it was imposed ; and therefore it would not have answered 
the real purpose of the managers. 

Perhaps persons unacquainted with the state of France, 
on hearing the clergy and the noblesse were privileged in 
point of taxation, may be led to imagine, that, previous to 
the Revolution, these bodies had contributed nothing to 
the state. This is a great mistake. They certainly did 
not contribute equally with each other, nor either of them 
equally with the commons. They both however con- 
tributed largely. Neither nobility nor clergy enjoyed any 
exemption from the excise on consumable commodities, 
from duties of custom, or from any of the other numerous 
indirect impositions, which in France, as well as here, 
make so very large a proportion of all payments to the 
public. The noblesse paid the capitation. They paid also 
a land-tax, called the twentieth penny, to the height some- 
times of three, sometimes of four, shillings in the pound ; 
both of them direct impositions of no light nature, and no 
trivial produce. The clergy of the provinces annexed by 
conquest to France (which in extent make about an 
eighth part of the whole, but in wealth a much larger pro- 
portion), paid likewise to the capitation and the twentieth 
penny, at the rate paid by the nobility. The clergy in the 
old provinces did not pay the capitation; but they had 
redeemed themselves at the expense of about 24 millions, 
or a little more than a million sterling. They were ex- 
empted from the twentieths : but then they made free 
gifts ; they contracted debts for the state ; and they were 
subject to some other charges, the whole computed at 
about a thirteenth part of their clear income. They ought 
to have paid annually about forty thousand pounds more, 
to put them on a par with the contribution of the nobility. 

When the terrors of this tremendous proscription hung 
over the clergy, they made an offer of a contribution, 

mittee sat for preparing bills ; and none could pass, but those previously 
approved by them. This committee was called lords of articles. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 117 

through the archbishop of Aix, which, for its extrava- 
gance, ought not to have been accepted. But It was 
evidently and obviously more advantageous to the public 
creditor, than anything which could rationally be promised 
by the confiscation. Why was it not accepted? The 
reason is plain There was no desire that the church 
should be brought to serve the state. The service of the 
state was made a pretext to destroy the church. la their 
way to the destruction of the church they would not scruple 
to destroy their country : and they have destroyed It. One 
great end in the project would have been defeated, If the 
plan of extortion had been adopted In lieu of the scheme of 
confiscation. The new landed Interest connected with the 
new republic, and connected with it for Its very being, 
could not have been created. This was among the reasons 
why that extravagant ransom was not accepted. 

The madness of the project of confiscation, on the plan 
that was first pretended, soon became apparent. To bring 
this unwieldy mass of landed property, enlarged by the 
confiscation of all the vast landed domain of the crown, 
at once into market, was obviously to defeat the profits 
proposed by the confiscation, by depreciating the value ol 
those lands, and Indeed of all the landed estates through- 
out France. Such a sudden diversion of all its circulating 
money from trade to land, must be an additional mischief. 
What step was taken? Did the Assembly, on becoming 
sensible of the inevitable 111 effects of their projected sale, 
revert to the offers of the clergy ? No distress could oblige 
them to travel In a course which was disgraced by any 
appearance of justice. Giving over all hopes from a 
general immediate sale, another project seems to have 
succeeded. They proposed to take stock In exchange for 
the church lands. In that project great difficulties arose 
In equalizing the objects to be exchanged. Other obstacles 
also presented themselves, which threw them back again 
upon some project of sale. The municipalities had taken 
an alarm. They would not hear of transferring the whole 
plunder of the kingdom to the stock-holders In Paris. 
Many of those municipalities had been (upon system) 
reduced to the most deplorable indigence. Money was no- 
where to be seen. They were therefore led to the point 
that was so ardently desired. They panted for a currency 



nS REFLECTIONS ON 7 HE 

of any kind which might revive their perishing industry. 
The municipalities were then to be admitted to a share 
in the spoil, which evidently rendered the first scheme 
(if ever it had been seriously entertained) altogether im- 
practicable. Public exigencies pressed upon all sides. 
The minister of finance reiterated his call for supply with 
a most urgent, anxious, and boding voice. Thus pressed 
on ail sides, instead of the first plan of converting their 
bankers into bishops and abbots, instead of paying the 
old debt, they contracted a new debt, at 3 per cent., 
creating a new paper currency, founded on an eventual 
sale of the church lands. They issued this paper currency 
to satisfy in the first instance chiefly the demands made 
upon them by the bank of discount, the great machine, or 
paper-mill, of their fictitious wealth. 

The spoil of the church was now become the only 
resource of all their operations in finance, the vital 
principle of all their politics, the sole security for the exist- 
ence of their power. It was necessary by all, even the 
most violent means, to put every individual on the same 
! Bottom, and to bind the nation in one guilty interest to 
uphold this act, and the authority of those by whom it was 
done. In order to force the most reluctant into a par- 
ticipation of their pillage, they rendered their paper circu- 
lation compulsory in all payments. Those who consider 
the general tendency of their schemes to this one object 
as a centre, and a centre from which afterwards all their 
measures radiate, will not think that I dwell too long upon 
this part of the proceedings of the National Assembly. 

To cut off all appearance of connexion between the 
crown and public justice, and to bring the whole under 
implicit obedience to the dictators in Paris, the old inde- 
pendent judicature of the parliaments, with all its merits, 
and all its faults, was wholly abolished. Whilst the parlia- 
ments existed, it was evident that the people might some 
time or other come to resort to them, and rally under the 
standard of their ancient laws. It became however a 
matter of consideration that the magistrates and officers, 
in the courts now abolished, had purchased their places 
at a very high rate, for which, as well as for the doty they 
performed, they received but a very low return of interest. 
Simple confiscation is a boon only for the clergy; to the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 09 

lawyers some appearances of equity are to be observed; 
and they are to receive compensation to an immense 
amount. Their compensation becomes part of the national 
debt, for the liquidation of which there is the one exhaust- 
less fund. The lawyers are to obtain their compensation 
in the new church paper, which is to march with the new 
principles of judicature and legislature. The dismissed 
magistrates are to take their share of martyrdom with the 
ecclesiastics, or to receive their own property from such 
a fund, and in such a manner, as all those, who have been 
seasoned with the ancient principles of jurisprudence, and 
had been the sworn guardians of property, must look upon 
with horror. Even the clergy are to receive their miser- 
able allowance out of the depreciated paper, which is 
stamped with the indelible character of sacrilege, and with 
the symbols of their own ruin, or they must starve. So 
violent an outrage upon credit, property, and liberty, as 
this compulsory paper currency, has seldom been exhibited 
by the alliance of bankruptcy and tyranny, at any time, or 
in any nation. 

In the course of all these operations, at length comes 
out the grand arcanum; that in reality, and in a fair 
sense, the lands of the church (so far as anything certain 
can be gathered from their proceedings) are not to be 
sold at all. By the late resolutions of the National 
Assembly, they are indeed to be delivered to the highest 
bidder. But it is to be observed, that a certain portion 
only of the purchase money is to loe laid down. A period 
of twelve years is to be given for the payment of the rest. 
The philosophic purchasers are therefore, on payment of 
a sort of fine, to be put instantly into possession of the 
estate. It becomes in some respects a sort of gift to 
them ; to be held on the feudal tenure of zeal to the new 
establishment. This project is evidently to let in a body 
of purchasers without money. The consequence will be, 
that these purchasers, or rather grantees, will pay, not 
only from the rents as they accrue, which might as well 
be received by the state, but from the spoil of the materials 
of buildings, from waste in woods, and from whatever 
money, by hands habituated to the gripings of usury, they 
can wring from the miserable peasant. He is to be delivered 
over to the mercenary and arbitrary discretion of men, who 



120 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

will be stimulated to every species of extortion by the grow- 
ing demands on the growing- profits of an estate held under 
the precarious settlement of a new political system. 

When all the frauds, impostures, violences, rapines, 
burnings, murders, confiscations, compulsory paper cur- 
rencies, and every description of tyranny and cruelty 
employed to bring about and to uphold this Revolution > 
have their natural effect, that is, to shock the moral senti- 
ments of all virtuous and sober minds, the abettors of this 
philosophic system immediately strain their throats in a 
declamation against the old monarchial government of 
France, When they have rendered that deposed power 
sufficiently black, they then proceed in argument, as if all 
those who disapprove of their new abuses must of course 
be partisans of the old; that those who reprobate their 
crude and violent schemes of liberty ought to be treated 
as advocates for servitude. I admit that their necessities 
do compel them to this base and contemptible fraud. 
Nothing can reconcile men to their proceedings and pro- 
jects, but the supposition that there is no third option 
between them and some tyranny as odious as can be 
furnished by the records of history, or by the invention of 
poets. This prattling of theirs hardly deserves the name 
of sophistry. It is nothing but plain impudence. Have 
these gentlemen never heard, in the whole circle of the 
worlds of theory and practice, of anything between the 
despotism of the monarch and the despotism of the multi- 
tude? Have they never heard of a monarchy directed by 
laws, controlled and balanced by the great hereditary 
wealth and hereditary dignity of a nation ; and both again 
controlled by a judicious check from the reason and feeling 
of the people at large, acting by a suitable and perman- 
ent organ? Is it then impossible that a man may be 
found, who, without criminal ill intention, or pitiable 
absurdity, shall prefer such a mixed and tempered govern- 
ment to either of the extremes ; and who may repute that 
nation to be destitute of all wisdom and of all virtue, 
which, having in its choice to obtain such a government 
with ease, or rather to confirm it when actually possessed, 
thought proper to commit a thousand crimes, and to 
subject their country to a thousand evils, in order to avoid 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 121 

it? Is It then a truth so universally acknowledged, that a 
pure democracy is the only tolerable form Into which 
human society can be thrown, that a man is not permitted 
to hesitate about its merits, without the suspicion of being 
a friend to tyranny, that is, of being- a foe to mankind? 

I do not know under what description to class the 
present ruling authority in France. It affects to be a pure 
democracy, though I think it In a direct train of becoming 
shortly a mischievous and ignoble oligarchy. But for the 
present I admit it to be a contrivance of the nature and 
effect of what it pretends to. I reprobate no form of 
government merely upon abstract principles. There may 
be situations in which the purely democratic form will 
become necessary. There may be some (very few, and 
very particularly circumstanced) where It would be clearly 
desirable. This I do not take to be the case of France, 
or of any other great country. Until now, we have seen 
no examples of considerable democracies. The ancients 
were better acquainted with them. Not being wholly 
unread in the authors, who had seen the most of those 
constitutions, and who best understood them, I cannot help 
concurring with their opinion, that an absolute democracy, 
no more than absolute monarchy, is to be reckoned among 
the legitimate forms of government. They think It rather 
the corruption and degeneracy, than the sound constitu- 
tion of a republic. If I recollect rightly, Aristotle 
observes, that a democracy has many striking points of 
resemblance with a tyranny. 1 Of this I am certain, that 
in a democracy, the majority of the citizens is capable of 

l When I wrote this I quoted from memory, after many years had 
elapsed from my reading the passage. A learned friend has found 
it, and it is as follows : 
, xal 




better class of citizens; and decrees are in the one, what ordinances 
and arrgts are in the other : the demagogue too, and the court favour- 
ite, are not unfrequently the same identical men, and always bear a 
close analogy; and these have the principal power, each in their 
respective forms of government, favourites with the absolute monarch, 
and demagogues with a people such as I have described." Arist. 
Politic, lib. iv. cap. 4. 



122 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

exercising the most cruel oppressions upon the minority, 
whenever strong divisions prevail in that kind of polity, 
as they often must; and that oppression of the minority 
will extend to far greater numbers, and will be carried on 
with much greater fury, than can almost ever be appre- 
hended from the dominion of a single sceptre. In such 
a popular persecution, individual sufferers aie in a much 
more deplorable condition than in any other. Under a 
cruel prince they have the balmy compassion of mankind 
to assuage the smart of their wounds ; they have the 
plaudits of the people to animate their generous constancy 
under their sufferings : but those who are subjected to 
wrong under multitudes, are deprived of all external con- 
solation. They seem deserted by mankind, overpowered 
by a conspiracy of their whole species. 

But admitting democracy not to have that inevitable 
tendency to party tyranny, which I suppose it to have, and 
admitting it to possess as much good in it when unmixed, 
as I am sure it possesses when compounded with other 
forms ; does monarchy, on its part, contain nothing at all 
to recommend it? I do not often quote Bolingbroke, nor 
have his works in general left any permanent impression 
on my mind. He is a presumptuous and a superficial 
writer. But he has one observation, which, in my opinion, 
is not without depth and solidity. He says, that he pre- 
fers a monarchy to other governments ; because you can 
better ingraft any description of republic on a monarchy 
than anything of monarchy upon the republican forms. I 
think him perfectly in the right. The fact is so historic- 
ally; and it agrees well with the speculation. 

I know how easy a topic it is to dwell on the faults of 
departed greatness. By a revolution in the state, the 
fawning sycophant of yesterday is converted into the 
austere critic of the present hour. But steady, inde- 
pendent minds, when they have an object of so serious a 
concern to mankind as government under their contem- 
plation, will disdain to assume the part of satirists and 
declaimers. They will judge of human institutions as they 
do of human characters. They will sort out the good from 
the evil, which is mixed in mortal institutions, as it is 
in mortal men. 

Your government in France, though usually, and I think 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 123 

justly, reputed the best of the unqualified or ill-qualified 
monarchies, was still full of abuses. These abuses accu- 
mulated in a length of time, as they must accumulate in 
every monarchy not under the constant inspection of a 
popular representative. I am no stranger to the faults and 
defects of the subverted government of France; and I 
think I am not inclined by nature or policy to make a 
panegyric upon anything which is a just and natural object 
of censure. But the question is not now of the vices of 
that monarchy, but of its existence. Is it J then true, that 
the French government was such as to be incapable or 
undeserving of reform ; so that it was of absolute necessity 
that the whole fabric should be at once pulled down, and 
the area cleared for the erection of a theoretic, experi- 
mental edifice in its place? All France was of a different 
opinion in the beginning of the year 1789. The instruc- 
tions to the representatives to the states-general, from 
every district in that kingdom, were filled with projects 
for the reformation of that government, without the 
remotest suggestion of a design to destroy it. Had such 
a design been then even insinuated, I believe there would 
have been but one voice, and that voice for rejecting it 
with scorn and horror. Men have been sometimes led by 
degrees, sometimes hurried, into things of which, if they 
could have seen the whole together, they never would have 
permitted the most remote approach. When those in- 
structions were given, there was no question but that 
abuses existed, and that they demanded a reform; nor is 
there now. In the interval between the instructions and 
the Revolution, things changed their shape; and, in 
consequence of that change, the true question at present 
is, Whether those who would have reformed, or those who 
have destroyed, are in the right? 

To hear some men speak of the late monarchy of France 
you would imagine that they were talking of Persia bleed- 
ing under the ferocious sword of Tahmas Kouli Khin ; or 
at least describing the barbarous anarchic despotism of 
Turkey, where the finest countries in the most genial 
climates in the world are wasted by peace more than any 
countries have been worried by war; where arts are un- 
known, where manufactures languish, where science is 
extinguished, where agriculture decays, where the human 



124 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

race itself melts away and perishes under the eye of the 
observer. Was this the case of France? I have no way 
of determining the question but by a reference to facts. 
Facts do not support this resemblance. Along with much 
evil, there is some good in monarchy itself ; and some 
corrective to its evil from religion, from laws, from 
manners, from opinions, the French monarchy must have 
received ; which rendered it (though by no means a free, 
and therefore by no means a good, constitution) a despot- 
ism rather in appearance than in reality. 

Among the standards upon which the effects of govern- 
ment on any country are to be estimated, I must consider 
the state of its population as not the least certain. No 
country in which population flourishes, and is in pro- 
gressive improvement, can be under a very mischievous 
government. About sixty years ago, the Intendants of 
the generalities of France made, with other matters, a 
report of the population of their several districts. I have 
not the books, which are very voluminous, by rne, nor do 
I know where to procure them (I am obliged to speak 
by memory, and therefore the less positively), but I think 
the population of France was by them, even at that period, 
estimated at twenty-two millions of souls. At the end 
of the last century it had been generally calculated at 
eighteen. On either of these estimations, France was not 
ill peopled. M. Necker, who is an authority for his own 
time at least equal to the Intendants for theirs, reckons, 
and upon apparently sure principles, the people of France, 
in the year 1780, at twenty-four millions six hundred and 
seventy thousand. But was this the probable ultimate 
term under the old establishment? Dr. Price is of 
opinion, that the growth of population in France was by 
no means at its acmd in that year. I certainly defer to 
Dr. Price's authority a good deal more in these specula- 
tions, than I do in his general politics. This gentleman, 
taking ground on M. Necker J s data, is very confident that 
since the period of that minister's calculation, the French 
population has increased rapidly; so rapidly, that in the 
year 1789 he will not consent to rate the people of that 
kingdom at a lower number than thirty millions. After 
abating much (and much I think ought to be abated) from 
the sanguine calculation of Dr. Price, I have no doubt that 



REVOLUTION IN PRANCE 125 

the population of France did increase considerably during 
this ^ later period : but supposing that it increased to 
nothing more than will be sufficient to complete the twenty- 
four millions six hundred and seventy thousand to twenty- 
live millions, still a population of twenty-five millions, and 
that in an increasing progress, on a space of about twenty- 
seven thousand square leagues, is immense. It is, for 
instance, a good deal more than the proportionable popula- 
tion of this island, or even than that of England, the best 
peopled part of the United Kingdom. 

It is not universally true, that France is a fertile 
country. Considerable tracts of It are barren, and labour 
under other natural disadvantages. In the portions of 
that territory where things are more favourable, as far as 
I am able to discover, the numbers of the people corre- 
spond to the indulgence of nature. 1 The Generality of 
Lisle (this I admit is the strongest example) upon an 
extent of four hundred and four leagues and a half, about 
ten years ago, contained seven hundred and thirty-four 
thousand six hundred souls, which is one thousand seven 
hundred and seventy-two inhabitants to each square 
league. The middle term for the rest of France is about 
nine hundred inhabitants to the same admeasurement. 

I do not attribute this population to the deposed govern- 
ment; because I do not like to compliment the contriv- 
ances of men with what is due in a great degree to the 
bounty of Providence. But that decried government could 
not have obstructed, most probably it favoured, the opera- 
tion of those causes (whatever they were), whether of 
nature in the soil, or habits of industry among the people, 
which has produced so large a number of the species 
throughout that whole kingdom, and exhibited in some 
particular places such prodigies of population. I never 
will suppose that fabric of a state to be the worst of all 
political institutions, which, by experience^ is found to 
contain a principle favourable (however latent it may be) 
to the increase of mankind. 

The wealth of a country is another, and no contemptible 
standard, by which we may judge whether, on the whole, a 
government be protecting or destructive. France far ex- 

l De 1 Administration des Finances de la France, par Mons. 
Necker, vol. i. p. 288. 



126 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

ceeds England in the multitude of her people ; but I appre- 
hend that her comparative wealth is much inferior to ours ; 
that it is not so equal in the distribution, nor so ready in 
the circulation. I believe the difference in the form of the 
two governments to be amongst the causes of this advan- 
tage on the side of England. I speak of England, not of 
the whole British dominions; which, if compared with 
those of France, will, in some degree, weaken the com- 
parative rate of wealth upon our side. But that wealth, 
which will not endure a comparison with the riches of 
England, may constitute a very respectable degree of 
opulence. M. Necker 's book, published in I785, 1 con- 
tains an accurate and interesting collection of facts relative 
to public economy and to political arithmetic; and his 
speculations on the subject are in general wise and liberal. . 
In that work he gives an idea of the state of France, very 
remote from the portrait of a country whose government 
was a perfect grievance, an absolute evil, admitting no 
cure but through the violent and uncertain remedy of a 
total revolution. He affirms, that from the year 1726 to 
the year 1784, there was corned at the mint of France, in 
the species of gold and silver, to the amount of about one 
hundred millions of pounds sterling. 2 

It is impossible that M. Necker should be mistaken in 
the amount of the bullion which has been coined in the 
mint. It is a matter of official record. The reasonings 
of this able financier, concerning the quantity of gold and 
silver which remained for circulation, when he wrote in 
1785, that is, about four years before the deposition and 
imprisonment of the French king, are not of equal cer- 
tainty; but they are laid on grounds so apparently solid, 
that it is not easy to refuse a considerable degree of assent 
to his calculation. He calculates the numeraire, or what 
we call specie, then actually existing in France, at about 
eighty-eight millions of the same English money. A great 
accumulation of wealth for one country, large as that 
country is ! M. Necker was so far from considering this 
influx of wealth as likely to cease, when he wrote in 1785, 
that he presumes upon a future annual increase of two 
per cent, upon the money brought into France during the 
periods from which he computed. 

l De 1 'Administration des Finances de la France, par Mons. Necker. 
8 Vol. iii. chap. 8 and chap 9. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 127 

Some adequate cause must have originally introduced all 
the money coined at its mint into that kingdom ; and some 
cause as operative must have kept at home, or returned 
into its bosom, such a vast flood of treasure as M. Necker 
calculates to remain for domestic circulation. Suppose 
any reasonable deductions from M. Necker *s computation, 
the remainder must still amount to an immense sum. 
Causes thus powerful to acquire, and to retain, cannot be 
found in discouraged industry, insecure property, and a 
positively destructive government. Indeed, when I con- 
sider the: face of the kingdom of France; the multitude 
and opulence of her cities ; the useful magnificence of her 
spacious high roads and bridges ; the opportunity of her 
artificial canals and navigations opening the conveniences 
of maritime communication through a solid continent of 
so immense an extent ; when I turn my eyes to the stupend- 
ous ^orks of her ports and harbours, and to her whole 
naval apparatus, whether for war or trade; when I bring 
before my view the number of her fortifications, con- 
structed with so bold and masterly a skill, and made and 
maintained at so prodigious a charge, presenting an armed 
front and impenetrable barrier to her enemies upon every 
side ; when I recollect how very small a part of that 
extensive region is without cultivation, and to what com- 
plete perfection the culture of many of the best productions 
of the earth have been brought in France; when I reflect 
on the excellence of her manufactures and fabrics, second 
to none but ours, and in some particulars not second; 
when I contemplate the grand foundations of charity, 
public and private ; when I survey the state of all the arts 
that beautify and polish life; when I reckon the men she 
has bred for extending her fame in war, her able states- 
men, the multitude of her profound lawyers and theolo- 
gians, her philosophers, her critics, her historians and 
antiquaries, her poets and her orators, sacred and profane; 
I behold in all this something which awes and commands 
the imagination, which checks the mind on the brink of 
precipitate and indiscriminate censure, and which demands 
that we should very seriously examine, what and how 
great are the latent vices that could authorize us at once 
to level so spacious a fabric with the ground. I do not 
recognize in this view of things, the despotism of Turkey. 
Nor do I discern the character of a government, that has 



i2 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

beeriy on tfie whole, so oppressive, or so corrupt, or so 
negligent, as to be utterly unfit for all reformation. I 
must think such a government well deserved to have its 
excellencies heightened, its faults corrected, and its capaci- 
ties improved into a British constitution. 

Whoever has examined into the proceedings of that 
deposed government for several years back, cannot fail to 
have observed, amidst the inconstancy and fluctuation 
natural to courts, an earnest endeavour towards the 
prosperity and improvement of the country ; he must admit, 
that it had long been employed, in some instances wholly 
to remove, in many considerably to correct, the abusive 
practices and usages that had prevailed in the state; and 
that even the unlimited power of the sovereign over the 
persons of his subjects, inconsistent, as undoubtedly it 
was, with law and liberty, had yet been every day growing 
more mitigated in the exercise. So far from refusing itself 
to reformation, that government was open, with a censur- 
able degree of facility, to all sorts of projects and projectors 
on the subject. Rather too much countenance was given 
to the spirit of innovation, which soon was turned against 
those who fostered it, and ended in their ruin. It is but 
cold, and no very flattering, justice to that fallen monarchy, 
to say, that, for many years, it trespassed more by levity 
and want of judgment in several of Its schemes, than from 
any defect in diligence or in public spirit. To compare 
the government of France for the last fifteen or sixteen 
years with wise and well-constituted establishments during 
that, or during any period, is not to act with fairness. 
But if in point of prodigality in the expenditure of money, 
or in point of rigour in the exercise of power, it be com- 
pared with any of the former reigns, I believe candid 
judges will give little credit to the good intentions of those 
who dwell perpetually on the donations to favourites, or 
on the expenses of the court, or on the horrors of the 
Bastile, in the reign of Louis the Sixteenth. 1 

Whether the system, if it deserves such a name, now 
built on the ruins of that ancient monarchy, will be able to 

1 The world is obliged to M. de Calonne for the pains he has taken 
to refute the scandalous exaggerations relative to some of the royal 
expenses, and to detect the fallacious account given of pensions, for 
the wicked purpose of provoking the populace to all sorts of crimes. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 129 

give a better account of the population and wealth of the 
country, which it has taken under its care, is a matter very 
doubtful. Instead of improving by the change, I appre- 
hend that a long series of years must be told, before it can 
recover in any degree the effects of this philosophic revolu- 
tion, and before the nation can be replaced on its former 
footing. If Dr. Price should think fit, a few years hence, 
to favour us with an estimate of the population of France, 
he will hardly be able to make up his tale of thirty millions 
of souls, as computed in 1789, or the Assembly's computa- 
tion of twenty-six millions of that year; or even M. 
Necker's twenty-five millions in 1780. I hear that there 
are considerable emigrations from France; and that many, 
quitting- ^that voluptuous climate, and that seductive 
Circean liberty, have taken refuge in the frozen regions, 
and under the British despotism, of Canada. 

In the present disappearance of coin, no person could 
think it the same country, in which the present minister of 
the finances has been able to discover fourscore millions 
sterling in specie. From its general aspect one would con- 
clude that it had been for some time past under the special 
direction of the learned academicians of Laputa and Balni- 
barbi. 1 Already the population of Paris has so declined, 
that M, Necker stated to the National Assembly the provi- 
sion to be made for its subsistence at a fifth less than what 
had formerly been found requisite. 2 It is said (and I 
have never heard it contradicted) that a hundred thousand 
people are out of employment in that city, though it is 
become the seat of the imprisoned court and National 
Assembly. Nothing, I am credibly informed, can exceed 
the shocking and disgusting spectacle of mendicancy dis- 
played in that capital. Indeed the votes of the National 
Assembly leave no doubt of the fact. They have lately 
appointed a standing committee of mendicancy. They are 
contriving at once a vigorous police on this subject, and, 
for the first time, the imposition of a tax to maintain the 
poor, for whose present relief great sums appear on the 

1 See Gulliver's Travels for the idea of countries governed by 
philosophers. 

2 M. de Calonne states the falling off of the population of Paris as 
far more considerable; and it may be so, since the period ol M. 
Necker 's calculation. 



130 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

face of the public accounts of the year. 1 In the meantime 
the leaders of the legislative clubs and coffee-houses are 
intoxicated with admiration at their own wisdom and 
ability. They speak with the most sovereign contempt of 
the rest of the world. They tell the people, to comfort 
them in the rags with which they have clothed them, that 
they are a nation of philosophers; and, sometimes, by all 
the arts of quackish parade, by show, tumult, and bustle, 
sometimes by the alarms of plots and invasions, they 
attempt to drown the cries of indigence, and to divert the 
eyes of the observer from the ruin and wretchedness of 
the state. A brave people will certainly prefer liberty 
accompanied with a virtuous poverty to a depraved and 
wealthy servitude. But before the price of comfort and 
opulence is paid, one ought to be pretty sure it is real 
liberty which is purchased, and that she is to be purchased 
at no other price. I shall always, however, consider that 
liberty as very equivocal in her appearance, which has not 
wisdom and justice for her companions ; and does not lead 
prosperity and plenty in her train. 

1 Travaux de cbarit^ pour subvenir 

au manque de travail a Paris et Livres s. d. 

dans les provinces 3,866,920 161,121 13 4 

Destruction de vagabondage et de 

la mendicite 1,671,417 69,642 7 6 

Primes pour Pimportation de grains 5,671,907 236,329 9 2 
Defenses relatives aux snbsistances, 

deduction fait des rcouvrements 

qui out en lieu ...... 39,871,790 1,661,324 n 8 



Total JJn. 5 1,082,034 - j2, 128,41 8 i 8 



When I sent this book to the press, I entertained some doubt con- 
cerning the nature and extent of the last article in the above accounts, 
which is only under a general head, without any detail. Since then 
I have seen M. de Calonne's work. I must think it a great loss to 
me that I had not that advantage earlier. M. de Calonne thinks 
this article to be on account of general subsistence; but as he is not 
able to comprehend how so great a loss as -upwards of ^1,^61,000 
sterling could be sustained on the difference between the price and the 
sale of grain, he seems to attribute this enormous head of charge to 
secret expenses of the Revolution. I cannot say anything positively 
on that subject. The reader is capable of judging, by the aggregate 
of these immense charges, on the state and condition of France ; and 
the system of public economy adopted in that nation. These articles 
of account produced no inquiry or discussion in the National Assembly. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 131 

The advocates for this Revolution, not satisfied with 
exaggerating the vices of their ancient government, strike 
at the fame of their country Itself, by painting almost all 
that could have attracted the attention of strangers, I 
mean their nobility and their clergy, as objects of horror. 
If this were only a libel, there had not been much in it. 
But it has practical consequences. Had your nobility and 
gentry, who formed the great body of your landed men, 
and the whole of your military officers, resembled those of 
Germany, at the period when the Hanse-towns were neces- 
sitated to confederate against the nobles in defence of their 
property had they been like the Orsini and Vitelli In 
Italy, who used to sally from their fortified dens to rob 
the trader and traveller had they been such as the Mame- 
lukes in Egypt, or the Nayres on the coast of Malabar, 
I do admit, that too critical an Inquiry might not be advis- 
able into the means of freeing the world from such a 
nuisance. The statues of Equity and Mercy might be 
veiled for a moment. The tenderest minds, confounded 
with the dreadful exigence in which morality submits to the 
suspension of its own rules In favour of its own principles, 
might turn aside whilst fraud and violence were accom- 
plishing the destruction of a pretended nobility which dis- 
graced, whilst it persecuted, human nature. The persons 
most abhorrent from blood, and treason, and arbitrary con- 
fiscation, might remain silent spectators of this civil war 
between the vices. 

But did the privileged nobility who met under the king's 
precept at Versailles, in 1789, or their constituents, deserve 
to be looked on as the Nayres or Mamelukes of this age, 
or as the Orsini and ViteUi of ancient times? If I had 
then asked the question I should have passed for a mad- 
man. What have they since done that they were to be 
driven Into exile, that their persons should be hunted 
about, mangled, and tortured, their families dispersed, 
their houses laid in ashes, and that their order should be 
abolished, and the memory of it, if possible, extinguished, 
by ordaining them to change the very names by which they 
were usually known? Read their instructions to their 
representatives. They breathe the spirit of liberty as 
warmly, and they recommend reformation as stiongly, as 
any other order. Their privileges relative to contribution 



132 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

were voluntarily surrendered; as the king, from the be- 
ginning-, surrendered all pretence to a right of taxation. 
Upon a free constitution there was but one opinion in 
France. The absolute monarchy was at an end. It 
breathed its last, without a groan, without struggle, with- 
out convulsion. All the struggle, all the dissension, arose 
afterwards upon the preference of a despotic democracy 
to a government of reciprocal control. The triumph of 
the victorious party was over the principles of a British 
constitution. 

I have observed the affectation, which for many years 
past, has prevailed in Paris even to a degree perfectly 
childish, of idolizing the memory of your Henry the Fourth. 
If anything could put one out of humour with that orna- 
ment to the kingly character, it would be this overdone 
style of insidious panegyric. The persons who have 
worked this engine the most busily, are those who have 
ended their panegyrics in dethroning his successor and 
descendant; a man, as good-natured, at the least, as Henry 
the Fourth ; altogether as fond of his people ; and who has 
done infinitely more to correct the ancient vices of the 
state than that great monarch did, or we are sure he ever 
meant to do. Well it Is for his panegyrists that they have 
not him to deal with. For Henry of Navarre was a 
resolute, active, and politic prince. He possessed indeed 
great humanity and mildness ; but a humanity and mildness 
that never stood in the way of his interests. He never 
sought to be loved without putting himself first in a con- 
dition to be feared. He used soft language with deter- 
mined conduct. He asserted and maintained his authority 
in the gross, and distributed his acts of concession only 
in the detail. He spent the income of his prerogative 
nobly; but he took care not to break in upon the capital; 
never abandoning for a moment any of the claims which 
he made under the fundamental laws, nor sparing to shed 
the blood of those who opposed him, often in the field, 
sometimes upon the scaffold. Because he knew how to 
make his virtues respected by the ungrateful, he has 
merited the praises of those, whom, if they had lived in his 
time, he would have shut up in the Bastile, and brought to 
punishment along with the regicides whom he hanged after 
he bad famished Paris into a surrender. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 133 

If these panegyrists are in earnest In their admiration of 
Henry the Fourth, they must remember, that they cannot 
think more highly of him than he did of the noblesse of 
France; whose virtue, honour, courage, patriotism, and 
loyalty were his constant theme. 

But the nobility of France are degenerated since the days 
of Henry the Fourth. This is possible. "But it is more 
than I can believe to be true in any great degree. I do 
not pretend to know France as correctly as some others ; 
but I have endeavoured through my whole life to make 
myself acquainted with human nature ; otherwise I should 
be unfit to take even my humble part in the service of man- 
kind. In that study I could not pass by a vast portion 
of our nature, as it appeared modified in a country but 
twenty-four miles from the shore of this island. On my 
best observation, compared with my best inquiries, I found 
your nobility for the greater part composed of men of high 
spirit, and of a delicate sense of honour, both with regard 
to themselves individually, and with regard to their whole 
corps, over .whom they kept, beyond what is common in 
other countries, a censorial eye. They xvere tolerably well 
bred ; very officious, humane, and hospitable ; in their con- 
versation frank and open ; with a good military tone ; and 
reasonably tinctured with literature, particularly of the 
authors in their own language. Many had pretensions far 
above this description. I speak of those who were 
generally met with. 

As to their behaviour to the inferior classes, they ap- 
peared to me to comport themselves towards them' with 
good-nature, and with something more nearly approaching 
to familiarity, than is generally practised with us in the 
intercourse between the higher and lower ranks of life. 
To strike any person, even in the most abject condition, 
was a thing in a manner unknown, and would be highly 
disgraceful. Instances of other ill-treatment of the humble 
part of the community were rare : and as to attacks made 
upon the property or the personal liberty of the commons, 
I never heard of any whatsoever from them; nor, whilst 
the laws were in vigour under the ancient government, 
would such tyranny in subjects have been permitted. As 
men of landed estates, I had no fault to find with their 
conduct, though much to reprehend, and much to wish 



i-34 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

changed, In many of the old tenures. Where the letting 
of their land was by rent, I could not discover that their 
agreements with their farmers were oppressive; nor when 
they were in partnership with the farmer, as often was 
the case, have I heard that they had taken the lion's share. 
The proportions seemed not inequitable. There might be 
exceptions; but certainly they were exceptions only. I 
have no reason to believe that in these respects the landed 
noblesse of France were worse than the landed gentry of 
this country ; certainly in no respect more vexatious than 
the landholders, not noble, of their own nation. In cities 
the nobility had no manner of power; in the country very 
little. You know, Sir, that much of the civil government, 
and the police in the most essential parts, was not in the 
hands of that nobility which presents itself first to our 
consideration. The revenue, the system and collection 
of which were the most grievous parts of the French 
government, was not administered by the men of the 
sword ; nor were they answerable for the vices of its 
principle, or the vexations, where any such existed, in its 
management. 

Denying, as I am well warranted to do, that the nobility 
had any considerable share in the oppression of the people, 
in cases in which real oppression existed, I am ready to 
admit that they were not without considerable faults and 
errors. A foolish imitation of the worst part of the 
manners of England, which impaired their natural 
character, without substituting in its place what perhaps 
they meant to copy, has certainly rendered them worse than 
formerly they were. Habitual dissoluteness of manners 
continued beyond the pardonable period of life, was more 
common amongst them than it is with us ; and it reigned 
with the less hope of remedy, though possibly with some- 
thing of less mischief, by being covered with more exterior 
decorum. They countenanced too much that licentious 
philosophy which has helped to bring on their ruin. There 
was another error amongst them more fatal. Those of 
the commons, who approached to or exceeded many of the 
nobility In point of wealth, were not fully admitted to the 
rank and estimation which wealth, in reason and good 
policy, ought to bestow in every country; though I think 
not equally with that of other nobility. The two kinds of 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 135 

aristocracy were too punctiliously kept asunder; less so, 
however, than In Germany and some other nations. 

This separation, as I have already taken the liberty of 
suggesting" to you, I conceive to be one principal cause of 
the destruction of the old nobility. The military, particu- 
larly, was too exclusively reserved for men of family. But, 
after all, this was an error of opinion, which a conflicting 
opinion would have rectified. A permanent assembly, in 
which the commons had their share of power, would soon 
abolish whatever was too invidious and insulting in these 
distinctions; and even the faults In the morals of the 
nobility would have been probably corrected, by the greater 
varieties of occupation and pursuit to which a constitution 
by orders would have given rise. 

All this violent cry against the nobility I take to be a 
mere work of art. To be honoured and even privileged by 
the laws, opinions, and inveterate usages of our country, 
growing out of the prejudice of ages, has nothing to pro- 
voke horror and indignation in any man. Even to be too 
tenacious of those privileges is not absolutely a crime. 
The strong struggle In every Individual to preserve pos- 
session of what he has found to belong to him, and to 
distinguish him, is one of the securities against injustice 
and despotism Implanted In our nature. It operates as an 
Instinct to secure property, and to preserve communities 
in a settled state. What Is there to shock In this? 
Nobility Is a graceful ornament to the civil order. It Is 
the Corinthian capital of polished society. Omnes boni 
nobilitati semper favemus, was the saying of a wise and 
good man. It is Indeed one, sign of a liberal and benevo- 
lent mind to incline to it with some sort of partial pro- 
pensity. He feels no ennobling principle in his own heart, 
who wishes to level all the artificial Institutions which 
have been adopted for giving a body to opinion, and per- 
manence to fugitive esteem. It is a sour, malignant, 
envious disposition, without taste for the reality, or for 
any image or representation of virtue, that sees with joy 
the unmerited fall of what had long flourished In splendour 
and In honour. I do not like to see anything destroyed; 
any void produced In society; any ruin on the face of the 
land. It was therefore with no disappointment or dissatis- 
faction that my inquiries and observations did not present 



136 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

to me any incorrigible vices in the noblesse of France, or 
any abuse which could not be removed by a reform very 
short of abolition. Your noblesse did not deserve punish- 
ment : but to degrade is to punish. 

It was with the same satisfaction I found that the result 
of my inquiry concerning your clergy was not dissimilar. 
It is no soothing news to my ears, that great bodies of 
men are incurably corrupt. It is not with much credulity 
I listen to any, when they speak evil of those whom they 
are going to plunder. I rather suspect that vices are 
feigned or exaggerated, when profit is looked for in their 
punishment. An enemy is a bad witness ; a robber is a 
worse. Vices and abuses there were undoubtedly in that 
order, and must be. It was an old establishment, and not 
frequently revised. But I saw no crimes in the individuals 
that merited confiscation of their substance, nor those cruel 
insults and degradations, and that unnatural persecution, 
which have been substituted in the place of meliorating 
regulation. 

If there had been any just cause for this new religious 
persecution, the atheistic libellers, who act as trumpeters to 
animate the populace to plunder, do not love any body so 
much as not to dwell with complacence on the vices of the 
existing clergy. This they have not done. They find 
themselves obliged to rake into the histories of former ages 
(which they have ransacked with a malignant and profli- 
gate industry) for every instance of oppression and perse- 
cution which has been made by that body or in its favour, 
in order to justify, upon very iniquitous, because very 
illogical, principles of retaliation, their own persecutions, 
and their own cruelties. After destroying all other 
genealogies and family distinctions, they invent a sort of 
pedigree of crimes. It is not very just to chastise men for 
the offences of their natural ancestors : but to take the 
fiction of ancestry in a corporate succession, as a ground 
for punishing men who have no relation to guilty acts, 
except in names and general descriptions, is a sort of 
refinement in injustice belonging- to the philosophy of this 
enlightened age. The Assembly punishes men, many, if 
not most, of whom abhor the violent conduct of ecclesias- 
tics in former times as much as their present persecutors 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 137 

can do , and who would be as loud and as strong In the 
expression of that sense, if they were not well aware of the 
purposes for which all this declamation Is employed. 

Corporate bodies are immortal for the good of the mem- 
bers, but not for their punishment. Nations themselves 
are such corporations. As well might we in England think 
of waging inexpiable war upon all Frenchmen for the evils 
which they have brought upon us in the several periods of 
our mutual hostilities. You might, on your part, think 
yourselves justified in falling upon all Englishmen on 
account of the unparalleled calamities brought on the 
people of France by the unjust Invasions of our Henrys and 
our Edwards. Indeed we should be mutually justified in 
this exterminatory war upon each other, full as much as 
you are in the unprovoked persecution of your present 
countrymen, on account of the conduct of men of the same 
name in other times. 

We do not draw the moral lessons we might from 
history. On the contrary, without care it may be used to 
vitiate our minds and to destroy our happiness. In 
history a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, draw- 
ing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and 
Infirmities of mankind. It may. In the perversion , serve 
for a magazine, furnishing offensive and defensive weapons 
for parties in church and state, and supplying the means 
of keeping alive, or reviving, dissensions and animosities, 
and adding fuel to civil fury. History consists, for the 
greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by 
pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, 
ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites, 
\vhich shake the public with the same 

"troublous storms that toss 
The private state, and render life unsweet.** 

These vices are the causes of those storms. Religion, 
morals, laws, prerogatives, privileges, liberties, rights of 
men, are the pretexts. The pretexts are always found In 
some specious appearance of a real good. You would not 
secure men from tyranny and sedition, by rooting out of 
the mind the principles to which these fraudulent pretexts 
apply? If you did, you would root out everything that 
is valuable In the human breast. As these are the pre- 



138 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

texts, so the ordinary actors and instruments in great 
public evils are kings, priests, magistrates, senates, parlia- 
ments, national assemblies, judges, and captains. You 
would not cure the evil by resolving that there should 
be no more monarchs, nor ministers of state, nor of the 
gospel ; no interpreters of law ; no general officers ; no 
public councils. You might change the names. The 
things in some shape must remain. A certain quantum of 
power must always exist in the community, in some hands, 
and under some appellation. Wise men will apply their 
remedies to vices, not to names ; to the causes of evil which 
are permanent, not to the occasional organs by which they 
act, and the transitory modes in which they appear. Other- 
wise you will be wise historically, a fool in practice. 
Seldom have two ages the same fashion in their pretexts 
and the same modes of mischief. Wickedr^ss is a little 
more inventive. Whilst you are discussing fashion, the 
fashion is gone by. The very same vice assumes a new 
body. The spirit transmigrates ; and, far from losing its 
principle of life by the change of its appearance, it is 
renovated in its new organs with the fresh vigour of a 
juvenile activity. It walks abroad, it continues its 
ravages, whilst you are gibbeting the carcase, or demolish- 
ing the tomb. You are terrifying yourselves with ghosts 
and apparitions, whilst your house is the haunt of robbers. 
It is thus with all those, who, attending only to the shell 
and husk of history, think they are waging war with in- 
tolerance, pride, and cruelty, whilst, under colour of 
abhorring the ill principles of antiquated parties, they are 
authorizing and feeding the same odious vices in different 
factions, and perhaps in worse. 

Your citizens of Paris formerly had lent themselves as 
the ready instruments to slaughter the followers of Calvin, 
at the infamous massacre of St. Bartholomew. What 
should we say to those who could think of retaliating on 
the Parisians of this day the abominations and horrors of 
that time? They are indeed brought to abhor that 
massacre. Ferocious as they are, it is not difficult to make 
them dislike it; because the politicians and fashionable 
teachers have no interest in giving their passions exactly 
the same direction. Still, however, they find it their 
interest to keep the same savage dispositions alive. It was 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 139 

but the other day that they caused this very massacre to 
be acted on the stage for the diversion of the descendants 
of those who committed It. In this tragic farce they pro- 
duced the cardinal of Lorraine in his robes of function, 
ordering general slaughter. Was this spectacle intended 
to^ make the Parisians abhor persecution, and loathe the 
effusion of blood? No; it was to teach them to persecute 
their own pastors; it was to excite them, by raising a 
disgust and horror of their clergy, to an alacrity in hunting 
down to destruction an order, which, if it ought to exist 
at all, ought to exist not only in saTety, but in reverence. 
It was to stimulate their cannibal appetites (which one 
\vould think had been gorged sufficiently) by variety and 
seasoning ; and to quicken them to an alertness in new 
murders and massacres, if it should suit the purpose of the 
Guises of the day. An Assembly, in which sat a multitude 
of priests and prelates, was obliged to suffer this indignity 
at its door. The author was not sent to the galleys, nor 
the players to the house of correction. Not long after this 
exhibition, those players came forward to the Assembly 
to claim the rites of that very religion which they had 
dared to expose, and to show their prostituted faces in the 
senate, whilst the archbishop of Paris, whose function was 
known to his people only by his prayers and benedictions, 
and his wealth only by his alms, is forced to abandon his 
house, and to fly from his flock (as from ravenous wolves), 
because, truly, in the sixteenth century, the cardinal oi" 
Lorraine was a rebel and a murderer. 1 

Such is the effect of the perversion of history, by those, 
who, for the same nefarious purposes, have perverted 
every other part of learning. But those who will stand 
upon that elevation of reason, which places centuries under 
our eye, and brings things to the true point of comparison, 
which obscures little names, and effaces the colours of 
little parties, and to which nothing can ascend but the 
spirit and moral quality of human actions, will say to the 
teachers of the Palais Royal, The cardinal of Lorraine 
was the murderer of the sixteenth century, you have the 
glory of being the murderers in the eighteenth; and this 
is the only difference between you. But history in the 

1 This is on a supposition of the truth of this story, but he was not 
in France at the time. One name serves as well as another. 



140 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

nineteenth century, better understood, and better em- 
ployed, will, I trust, teach a civilized posterity to abhor 
the misdeeds of both these barbarous ages. It will teach 
future priests and magistrates not to retaliate upon the 
speculative and inactive atheists of future times, the 
enormities committed by the present practical zealots and 
furious fanatics of that wretched error, which, in its quies- 
cent state, is more than punished, whenever it is embraced. 
It will teach posterity not to make war upon either religion 
or philosophy, for the abuse which the hypocrites of both 
have made of the two most valuable blessings conferred 
upon us by the bounty of the universal Patron, who in all 
things eminently favours and protects the race of man. 

If your clergy, or any clergy, should show themselves 
vicious beyond the fair bounds allowed to human infirmity, 
and to those professional faults which can hardly be 
separated from professional virtues, though their vices 
never can countenance the exercise of oppression, I do 
admit, that they would naturally have the effect of abating 
very much of our indignation against the tyrants who 
exceed measure and justice in their punishment. I can 
allow in clergymen, through all their divisions, some 
tenaclousness of their own opinion, some overflowings of 
zeal for its propagation, some predilection to their own 
state and office, some attachment to the interest of their 
own corps, some preference to those who listen with 
docility to their doctrines, beyond those who scorn and 
deride them. I allow all this, because I am a man who has 
to deal with men, and who would not, through a violence 
of toleration, run into the greatest of all intolerance. I 
must bear with infirmities until they fester into crimes. 

Undoubtedly, the natural progress of the passions, from 
frailty to vice, ought to be prevented by a watchful eye and 
a firm hand. But is it true that the body of your clergy 
had past those limits of a just allowance? From the 
general style of your late publications of all sorts, one 
would be led to believe that your clergy in France were a 
sort of monsters; a horrible composition of superstition, 
ignorance, sloth, fraud, avarice, and tyranny. But is this 
true? Is it true, that the lapse of time, the cessation 
of conflicting interests, the woeful experience of the evils 
resulting from party rage, have had no sort of influence 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 141 

gradually to meliorate their minds? Is it true, that the 
were daily renewing invasions on the civil power, troubling 
the domestic quiet of their country, and rendering the 
operations of its government feeble and precarious? Is 
it J:rue, a that the clergy of our times have pressed down the 
laity with an iron hand, and were, in ail places, lighting- up 
the fires of a savage persecution? Did they by every fraud 
endeavour to increase their estates? Did they use to 
exceed tiie due demands on estates that were their own? 
Or, rigidly screwing up right into wrong, did they convert 
a legal claim into a vexatious extortion? When not 
possessed of power, were they filled with the vices of those 
who envy it? Were they inflamed with a violent, litigious 
spirit of controversy? Goaded on with the ambition of 
intellectual sovereignty, were they ready to fly in the face 
of all magistracy, to fire churches, to massacre the priests 
of other descriptions, to pull down altars, and to make 
their way over^the ruins of subverted governments to an 
empire of ^doctrine sometimes flattering, sometimes forcing, 
the consciences of men from the jurisdiction of public in- 
stitutions into a submission to their personal authority, 
beginning with a claim of liberty, and ending with an 
abuse of po\ver? 

These, or some of these, were the vices objected, and 
not wholly without foundation, to several of the churchmen 
of former times, who belonged to the two great parties, 
which then divided and distracted Europe. 

If there was in France, as in other countries there visibly 
is, a great abatement, rather than any increase of these 
vices, instead of loading the present clergy with the crimes 
of other men, and the odious character of other times, in 
common equity they ought to be praised, encouraged, and 
supported, in their departure from a spirit which disgraced 
their predecessors, and for having assumed a temper of 
mind and manners more suitable to their sacred function. 

When my occasions took me into France, towards the 
close of the late reign, the clergy, under all their forms, 
engaged a considerable part of my curiosity. So far from 
finding (except from one set of men, not then very numer- 
ous, though very active) the complaints and discontents 
against that body, which some publications had given me 
reason to expect, I perceived little or no public or private 



142 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

uneasiness on their account. On further examination, I 
found the clergy, in general, persons of moderate minds 
and decorous manners; I include the seculars, and the 
regulars of both sexes. I had not the good fortune to 
know a great many of the parochial clergy : but in general 
I received a perfectly good account of their morals, and 
of their attention to their duties. With some of the higher 
clergy I had a personal acquaintance; and of the rest in 
that class, a very good means of information. They were, 
almost all of them, persons of noble birth. They resembled 
others of their own rank; and where there was any differ- 
ence, it was in their favour. They were more fully 
educated than the military noblesse; so as by no means 
to disgrace their profession by ignorance, or by want of 
fitness for the exercise of their authority. They seemed to 
me, beyond the clerical character, liberal and open; with 
the hearts of gentlemen, and men of honour ; neither inso- 
lent nor servile in their manners and conduct. They 
seemed to me rather a superior class; a set of men, 
amongst whom you would not be surprised to find a 
Fenelon. I saw among the clergy in Paris (many of the 
description are not to be met with anywhere) men of great 
learning and candour; and I had reason to believe, that 
this description was not confined to Paris. What I found 
in other places, I know was accidental; and therefore to 
be presumed a fair sample. I spent a few days in a 
provincial town, where, in the absence of the bishop, I 
passed my evenings with three clergymen, his vicars- 
general, persons who would have done honour to any 
church. They were all well informed ; two of them of 
deep, general, and extensive erudition, ancient and modern, 
oriental and western ; particularly in their own profession. 
They had a more extensive knowledge of our English 
divines than I expected; and they entered into the genius 
of those writers with a critical accuracy. One of these 
gentlemen is since dead, the Abbe Morangis. I pay this 
tribute, without reluctance, to the memory of that noble, 
reverend, learned, and excellent person; and I should do 
the same, with equal cheerfulness, to the merits of the 
others, who I believe are still living, if I did not fear to 
hurt those whom I am unable to serve. 

Some of these ecclesiastics of rank are, by all titles, per- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 143 

sons deserving of general respect. They are deserving- of 
gratitude from me, and from many English. If this letter 
should ever come into their hands, I hope they will believe 
there are those of our nation who feel for their unmerited 
fall, and for the cruel confiscation of their fortunes, with no 
common sensibility. What I say of them is a testimony, 
as far as one feeble voice can go, which I owe to truth. 
Whenever the question of this unnatural persecution Is 
concerned, I will pay it. No one shall prevent me from 
being just and grateful. The time is fitted for the duty ; 
and ^it is particularly becoming to show our justice and 
gratitude, when those, who have deserved well of us and 
of mankind, are labouring under popular obloquy, and the 
persecutions of oppressive power. 

You had before your Revolution about an hundred and 
twenty bishops. A few of them were men of eminent 
sanctity, and charity without limit. When we talk of the 
heroic, of course we talk of rare virtue. I believe the in- 
stances of eminent depravity may be as rare amongst them 
as those of transcendent goodness. Examples of avarice 
and of licentiousness may be picked out, I do not question 
it, by those who delight in the investigation which leads 
to such discoveries. A man as old as I am will not be 
astonished that several in every description do not lead 
that perfect life of self-denial, with regard to wealth or 
to pleasure, which is wished for by all, by some expected, 
but by none exacted with more rigour, than by those who 
are the most attentive to their own interests, or the most 
indulgent to their own passions. When I was in France, 
I am certain that the number of vicious prelates was not 
great. Certain individuals among them, not distinguish- 
able for the regularity of their lives, made some amends 
for their want of the severe virtues, in their possession of 
the liberal; and were endowed with qualities which made 
them useful in the church and state. I am told, that, with 
few exceptions, Louis the Sixteenth had been more atten- 
tive to character, in his promotions to that rank, than his 
immediate predecessor; and I believe (as some spirit of 
reform has prevailed through the whole reign) that it may 
be true. But the present ruling power has shoxvn a dis- 
position only to plunder the church. It has punished all 
prelates ; which is to favour the vicious, at least in point 



144 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

of reputation. It has made a degrading* pensionary estab- 
lishment, to which no man of liberal ideas or liberal con- 
dition will destine his children. It must settle into the 
lowest classes of the people. As with you the inferior 
clergy are not numerous enough for their duties; as these 
duties are, beyond measure, minute and toilsome^ as you 
have left no middle classes of clergy at their ease, in future 
nothing of science or erudition can exist in the Gallican 
church. To complete the project, without the least atten- 
tion to the rights of patrons, the Assembly has provided 
in future an elective clergy ; an arrangement which will 
drive out of the clerical profession all men of sobriety ; all 
who can pretend to independence in their function or their 
conduct; and which will throw the whole direction of the 
public mind into the hands of a set of licentious, bold, 
crafty, factious , flattering wretches, of such condition and 
such habits of life as will make their contemptible pensions 
(in comparison of which the stipend of an exciseman is 
lucrative and honourable) an object of low and illiberal 
intrigue. Those officers, whom they still call bishops, are 
to t>e elected to a provision comparatively mean, through 
the same arts (that is, electioneering arts), by men of all 
religious tenets that are known or can be invented. The 
new lawgivers have not ascertained anything whatsoever 
concerning their qualifications, relative either to doctrine 
jr to morals ; no more than they have done with regard to 
the subordinate clergy ; nor does it appear but that both the 
higher and the lower may, at their discretion, practise or 
preach any mode of religion or irreligion that they please. 
I do not yet see what the jurisdiction of bishops over their 
subordinates is to be, or whether they are to have any 
jurisdiction at all 

In short. Sir, it seems to me, that this new ecclesiastical 
..stabllshment is intended only to be temporary, and pre- 
paratory to the utter abolition, under any of its forms, of 
the Christian religion, whenever the minds of men are pre- 
pared for this last stroke against it, by the accomplishment 
of the plan for bringing its ministers into universal con- 
tempt. They who will not believe, that the philosophical 
fanatics, who guide in these matters, have long- entertained 
such a design, are utterly ignorant of their character and 
proceedings. These enthusiasts do not scruple to avow 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 145 

their opinion, that a state can subsist without any religion 
better than with one; and that they are able to supply 
the place of any good which may be in it, by a project of 
their own namely, by a sort of education they have 
imagined, founded in a knowledge of the physical wants 
of men ; progressively carried to an enlightened self- 
interest, which, when well understood, they tell us, will 
identify with an interest more enlarged and public. The 
scheme of this education has been long known. Of late 
they distinguish it (as they have got an entirely new nomen- 
clature of technical terms) by the name of a Civic 
Education. 

I hope their partisans in England (to whom I rather 
attribute very inconsiderate conduct, than the ultimate 
object in this detestable design) will succeed neither in the 
pillage of the ecclesiastics, nor in the introduction of a 
principle of popular election to our bishoprics and parochial 
cures. This, in the present condition of the world, would 
be the last corruption of the church ; the utter ruin of the 
clerical character ; the most dangerous shock that the state 
ever received through a misunderstood arrangement of 
religion. I know well enough that the bishoprics and 
cures, under kingly and seignoral patronage, as now they 
are in England, and as they have been lately in France, are 
sometimes acquired by unworthy methods; but the other 
mode of ecclesiastical canvass subjects them infinitely more 
surely and more generally to all the evil arts of low ambi- 
tion, which, operating on and through greater numbers, 
will produce mischief in proportion. 

Those of you who have robbed the clergy think that 
they shall easily reconcile their conduct to all Protestant 
nations ; because the clergy, whom they have thus plun- 
dered, degraded, and given over to mockery and scorn, 
are of the Roman Catholic, that is, of their own pretended 
persuasion. I have no doubt that some miserable bigots 
will be found here, as well as elsewhere, who hate sects 
and parties different from their own, more than they love 
the substance of religion; and who are more angry with 
those who differ from them in their particular plans and 
systems, than displeased with those who attack the foun- 
dation of our common hope. These men will write and 
speak on the subject in the manner that is to be expected 



146 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

from their temper and character. Burnet says, that, when 
he was in France, In the year 1683, "the method which 
carried over the men of the finest parts to Popery was 
this they brought themselves to doubt of the whole 
Christian religion. When that was once done, It seemed 
a more indifferent thing of what side or form they con- 
tinued outwardly." If this was then the ecclesiastical 
policy of France, it is what they have since but too much 
reason to repent of. They preferred atheism to a form of 
religion not agreeable to their ideas. They succeeded in 
destroying that form ; and atheism has succeeded in 
destroying them. I can readily give credit to Rurnet's 
story ; because I have observed too much of a similar 
spirit (for a little of it is " much too much ") amongst 
ourselves. The humour, however, is not genera!. 

The teachers who reformed our religion in England bore 
no sort of resemblance to your present reforming doctors 
in Paris. Perhaps they were (like those whom they 
opposed) rather more than could be wished under the influ- 
ence of a party spirit ; but they were more sincere believers ; 
men of the most fervent and exalted piety ; ready to die 
(as some of them did die) like true heroes in defence of 
their particular ideas of Christianity ; as they would with 
equal fortitude, and more cheerfully, for that stock of 
general truth, for the branches of which they contended 
with their blood. These men would have disavowed with 
horror those wretches who claimed a fellowship with them 
upon no other titles than those of their having pillaged the 
persons with whom they maintained controversies, and 
their having despised the common religion, for the purity 
of which they exerted themselves with a zeal, which un- 
equivocally bespoke their highest reverence for the sub- 
stance of that system which they wished to reform. Many 
of their descendants have retained the same zeal, but (as 
less engaged in conflict) with more moderation. They do 
not forget that justice and mercy are substantial parts of 
religion. Impious men do not recommend themselves to 
their communion by iniquity and cruelty towards any 
description of their fellow-creatures. 

We hear these new teachers continually boasting of their 
spirit of toleration. That those persons should tolerate 
all opinions, who think none to be of estimation, is a 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 147 

matter of small merit. Equal neglect Is not impartial 
kindness. The species of benevolence, which arises from 
contempt, is no true charity. There are in England 
abundance of men who tolerate in the true spirit of tolera- 
tion. They think the dogmas of religion, though in 
different degrees, are all of moment : and that amongst 
them there is, as amongst all things of value, a just ground 
of preference. They favour, therefore, and they tolerate. 
They tolerate, not because they despise opinions, but be- 
cause they respect justice. They would reverently and 
affectionately protect all religions, because they love and 
venerate the great principle upon which they all agree, 
and the great object to which they are all directed. They 
begin more and more plainly to discern, that we have all 
a common cause, as against a common enemy. They will 
not be so misled by the spirit of faction, as not to dis- 
tinguish what is done in favour of their subdivision, from 
those acts of hostility, which, through some particular 
description, are aimed at the whole corps, in which they 
themselves, under another denomination, are included. It 
is impossible for me to say what may be the character of 
every description of men amongst us. But I speak for 
the greater part ; and for them, I must tell you, that sacri- 
lege is no part of their doctrine of good works ; that, so 
far from calling you into their fellowship on such title, if 
your professors are admitted to their communion, they 
must carefully conceal their doctrine of the lawfulness of 
the proscription of innocent men ; and that they must make 
restitution of all stolen goods whatsoever. Till then they 
are none of ours. 

You may suppose that we do not approve your con- 
fiscation of the revenues of bishops, and deans, and 
chapters, and parochial clergy possessing independent 
estates arising from land, because we have the same sort 
of establishment in England. That objection, you will say, 
cannot hold as to the confiscation of the goods of monks 
and nuns, and the abolition of their order. It is true that 
this particular part of your general confiscation does not 
affect England, as a precedent in point : but the reason 
implies, and it goes a great way. The long parliament 
confiscated the lands of deans and chapters in England on 
the same ideas upon which your Assembly set to sale the 



148 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

lands of the monastic orders. But it is in the principle 
of injustice that the danger lies, and not in the description 
of persons on whom it is first exercised. I see, in a 
country very near us, a course of policy pursued , which 
sets justice, the common concern of mankind, at defiance. 
With the National Assembly of France, possession is 
nothing;, law and usag"e are nothing. I see the National 
Assembly openly reprobate the doctrine of prescription, 
which, one of the greatest of their own lawyers I tells us, 
with great truth, is a part of the law of nature. He tells 
us, that the positive ascertainment of its limits, and its 
security from invasion, were among the causes for which 
civil society itself has been instituted. If prescription be 
once shaken, no species of property is secure, when it once 
becomes an object large enough to tempt the cupidity of 
indigent power. I see a practice perfectly correspondent to 
their contempt of this great fundamental part of natural 
law. I see the confiscators begin with bishops , and chap- 
ters, and monasteries ; but I do not see them end there. 
I see the princes of the blood, who, by the oldest usages 
of that kingdom , held large landed estates (hardly with 
the compliment of a debate) deprived of their possessions, 
and, in lieu of their stable, independent property, reduced 
to the hope of some precarious, charitable pension, at the 
pleasure of an assembly, which of course will pay little 
regard to the rights of pensioners at pleasure, when it 
despises those of legal proprietors. Flushed with the 
insolence of their first inglorious victories, and pressed 
by the distresses caused by their lust of unhallowed lucre, 
disappointed but not discouraged, they have at length 
ventured completely to subvert all property of all descrip- 
tions throughout tfie extent of a great kingdom. They 
have compelled all men, in all transactions of commerce, 
in the disposal of lands, in civil dealing, and through the 
whole communion of life, to accept as perfect payment and 
good and lawful tender, the symbols of their speculations 
on a projected sale of their plunder. What vestiges of 
liberty or property have they left? The tenant-right of a 
cabbage-garden, a year's interest in a hovel, the good- 
will of an ale-house or a baker's shop, the very shadow 
of a constructive property, are more ceremoniously treated 
in our parliament, than with you the oldest and most valu- 

1 Domafc. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 149 

able landed possessions, In the hands of the most respect- 
able personages, or than the whole body of the monied 
and commercial Interest of your country. We entertain 
a high opinion of the legislative authority; but we have 
never dreamt that parliaments had any right whatever to 
violate property, to overrule prescription, or to force a 
currency of their own fiction In the place of that which Is 
real, and recognized by the law of nations. But you, who 
began with refusing to submit to the most moderate 
restraints, have ended by establishing an unheard-of 
despotism. I find the ground upon which your confiscators 
go Is this; that indeed their proceedings could not be 
supported in a court of justice; but that the rules of pre- 
scription cannot bind a legislative assembly. 1 So that this 
legislative assembly of a free nation sits, not for the 
security, but for the destruction, of property, and not of 
property only, but of every rule and maxim which can give 
it stability, and of those instruments which can alone give 
it circulation. 

When the Anabaptists of Miinster, In the sixteenth cen- 
tury, had filled Germany with confusion, by their system of 
levelling, and their wild opinions concerning property, to 
what country in Europe did not the progress of their fury 
furnish just cause of alarm? Of all things, wisdom is the 
most terrified with epidemical fanaticism, because of afl 
enemies it Is that against which she Is the least able to 
furnish any kind of resource. We cannot be ignorant of 
the spirit of atheistical fanaticism, that Is inspired by a 
multitude of writings, dispersed with Incredible assiduity 
and expense, and by sermons delivered in all the streets 
and places of public resort in Paris. These writings and 
sermons have filled the populace with a black and savage 
atrocity of mind, which supersedes In them the common 
feelings of nature, as well as all sentiments of morality and 
religion ; insomuch that these wretches are induced to bear 
with a sullen patience the intolerable distresses brought 
upon them by the violent convulsions and permutations 
that have been made in property. 2 The spirit of proselyt- 

1 Speech of Mr. Camus, published by order of the National As- 
semblv. 

2 Whether the following description is strictly true, I know not ; 
but It is what the publishers would have pass for true in order to 
animate others. In a letter from Toul, given in one of their papers. 



150 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Ism attends this spirit of fanaticism. They have societies 
to cabal and correspond at home and abroad for the pro- 
pagation of their tenets. The republic of Berne, one of 
the happiest, the most prosperous , and the best governed 
countries upon earth, is one of the great objects, at the 
destruction of which they aim. I am told they have in 
some measure succeeded in sowing there the seeds of dis- 
content. They are busy throughout Germany. Spain and 
Italy have not been untried. England is not left out of 
the comprehensive scheme of their malignant charity : and 
in England we find those who stretch out their arms to 
them, who recommend their example from more than one 
pulpit, and who choose In more *han one periodical meet- 
ing 1 , publicly to correspond with thenij to applaud them, 
:i0d to hold them up as objects for imitation; who receive 
'Vom them tokens of confraternity, and standards con- 
secrated amidst their rights and mysteries ; l who suggest 
to them leagues of perpetual amity, at the very time when 
the power, to which our constitution has exclusively 
delegated the federative capacity of this kingdom, may 
lind It expedient to make war upon them. 

It is not the confiscation of our church property from 
this example in France that 1 dread, though I think this 
would be no trifling evil. The great source of my solici- 

Is the following passage concerning the poeple of that district : " Dans 
la Revolution actueile, its ont resist^ a tputes !es seductions du bigot- 
isrne, aux persecutions, et aux tracasseries des ennemls de la Revolu- 
tion, Oubliani leurs plus grands tntlrlts pour rendre hommage aux 
vues d'ordre general qui ont determine" iTAssemblee Nationale, ils 
voient, sans se plaindrc, supprimer cette foule d'etabiissemens eccl- 
siastiques par lesquels ils subsistoient; et mftme, en perdant leur siege 
Episcopal, la seule de tbutes ces ressources qui pouvolt, ou plutdt qui 
denoii, en touts equite, leur etre conserved ; condamnes a la plus 
effrayante misers, sans avoir tie ni pu etre entendus, ils ne murmurent 
point, Us restent iideles aux principes du plus pur patriotisme ; Us 
sont enccre prets i terser leur sang pour le maintien de la Constitu- 
tion, cjui va reduire leur ville a la plus dgpl&raMe nullite." These 
people are not supposed to have endured those sufferings and in- 
justices in a struggle for liberty, for the same account states truly 
that they had been always free ; their patience in beggary and ruin, 
and their suffering, without remonstrance, the most flagrant and 
confessed injustice, if strictly true, can be nothing but the effect of 
this dire fanaticism. A great multitude all over France is in the same 
condition and the same terr.per. 

1 See the proceedings of the confederation at Nantz. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 151 

tade is, lest it should ever be considered In England as the 
policy of a state to seek a resource in confiscations of any 

kind; or that any one description of citizens should be 

brought to regard any of the others as their proper prey. 1 
Nations are wading deeper and deeper into an ocean of 
boundless debt. Public debts, which at first were a security 
to governments, by interesting many in the public tranquil- 
lity^, are likely in their excess to become the means of 
their subversion. If governments provide for these debts 
by heavy impositions, they perish by becoming odious to 
the people. If they do not provide for them they will be 
undone by the efforts of the most dangerous of all parties ; 
I mean an extensive, discontented monied interest, injured 
and not destroyed. The men who compose this interest 
look for their security, in the first instance, to the fidelity 
of government; in the second, to its power. If they find 
the old governments effete, worn out, and with their 
springs relaxed, so as not to be of sufficient vigour for 
their purposes, they may seek new ones that shall be 
possessed of more energy ; and this energy will be derived, 
not from an acquisition of resources, but from a contempt 
of justice. Revolutions are favourable to confiscation ; 
and it is impossible to know under what obnoxious names 
the next confiscations will be authorized. I am sure that 
the principles predominant in France extend to very many 
persons, and descriptions of persons, in all countries who 

l "Si piures sunt il quibus improbe datum est, quam illi qmbus 
Injuste ademptum est, idclrco plus etiam valent? Non enim numero 
haec jjudicantur sed pondere. Quam autem habet sequitatem, ut 
agrura- multis annis, aut etiam saeculis ante possessum, qui nullum 
habuit habeat ; qui autem habuit amittat? Ac, propter hoc Injuriae 
genus, Lacedjemonii Lysandrum Ephorajn expuferunt : Agin regem 
(quod nunquam antea apud eos acciderat) necaverunt : exque eo 
tempore tantse discordiae secutse sunt, ut et tyranni existerint, et 
opti mates exterrninarentur, et preclarissime constltuta respublica dila- 
beretur. Nee vero solurn ipsa cecidit, sed etiam reiiquam Grseciam 
evertit contagionibus malorum, quse a Laceda^moniis profecte mana- 
runt latius." After speaking of the conduct of the model of true 
patriots, Aratus of Sicyon, which was in a very different spirit, he 
says, " Sic par est agere cum civibus ; non ut bis jam vidimus, hastam 
in foro ponere et bona civium voci subjicere praconis. At ille Grzecus 
(id quod fuit sapientis et prsestantis viri) omnibus consulendum. esse 
putavit : eaque est summa ratio et sapientia boni civis, commoda 
civium non divellere, sed omnes eadem aequitate continere." Cic. 
Off. 1. 2. 



r 5 2 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

think their Innoxious Indolence their security. This ^ 
of innocence in proprietors may be argued Into inutility; 
and inutility Into an unfitness for their estates. Many 
parts of Europe are in open disorder. In many others 
there is a hollow murmuring under ground; a confused 
movement is felt, that threatens a general earthquake in 
the political world. Already confederacies and corre- 
spondences of the most extraordinary nature are forming, 
in several countries. 1 In such a state of things we ought 
to hold ourselves upon our guard. In all mutations {if 
mutations must be) the circumstance which will serve 
most to Hunt the edge of their mischief, and to promote 
what good may be in them, is, that they should find us 
with our minds tenacious of justice, and tender of 
property. 

But it will be argued, that this confiscation in France 
ought not to alarm other nations. They say it is not made 
from wanton rapacity; that it is a great measure of 
national policy, adopted to remove an extensive, in- 
veterate, superstitious mischief. It is with the greatest 
difficulty that I am able to separate policy from justice. 
Justice Itself is the great standing policy of civil society ; 
and any eminent departure from it, under any circum- 
stances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all. 

When men are encouraged to go into a certain mode of 
life by the existing laws, and protected in that mode as 
in a lawful occupation when they have accommodated all 
their ideas and all their habits to it when the law had 
long made their adherence to its rules a ground of reputa- 
tion, and their departure from them a ground of disgrace 
and even of penalty I am sure it is unjust in legislature, 
by an arbitrary act* to offer a sudden violence to their 
minds and their feelings; forcibly to degrade them from 
their state and condition, and to stigmatize with shame 
and infamy that character, and those customs, which be- 
fore had been made the measure of their happiness and 
honour. If to this be added an expulsion from their habi- 
tations, and a confiscation of all their goods, I am not 
sagacious enough to discover how this despotic sport, 
made of the feelings, consciences, prejudices, and proper- 

1 See two books Intitled, Einlge Originalschriften des Illuminaten- 
ordens System und Folgen des Illuminatenordens. Miinchen, 1787. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 153 

ties of men, can be discriminated from the rankest 
tyranny. 

If the injustice of the course pursued In France be clear, 
the policy of the measure, that is, the public benefit to be 
expected ^from it, ought to be at least as evident, and at 
least as important. To a man who acts under the influ- 
ence of no passion, who has nothing- in view in his projects 
but the public good, a great difference will immediately 
strike him between what policy would dictate on the 
original introduction of such institutions, and on a question 
of their total abolition, where they have cast their roots 
wide and deep, and where, by long habit, things more 
valuable than themselves are so adapted to them, and in 
a manner interwoven with them, that the one cannot be 
destroyed without notably impairing the other. He might 
be embarrassed if the case were really such as sophisters 
represent it in their paltry style of debating. But in this, 
as in most questions of state, there is a middle. There is 
something else than the mere alternative of absolute 
destruction, or unreformed existence. Spartam nactus es ; 
hanc exorna. This is, in my opinion, a rule of profound 
sense, and ought never to depart from the mind of an 
honest reformer. I cannot conceive how any man can 
have brought himself to that pitch of presumption, to con- 
sider his country as nothing but carte blanche^ upon which 
he may scribble whatever he pleases. A man full of warm, 
speculative benevolence may wish his society otherwise 
constituted than he finds it ; but a good patriot, and a true 
politician, always considers how he shall make the most of 
the existing materials of his country. A disposition to 
preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would 
be my standard of a statesman. Everything else Is vulgar 
in the conception, perilous in the execution. 

There are moments in the fortune of states, when par- 
ticular men are called to make improvements, by great 
mental exertion. In those moments, even when they seem 
to enjoy the confidence of their prince and country, and 
to be invested with full authority, they have not always 
apt instruments. A politician, to do great things, looks 
for a power, what our workmen call a purchase; and if 
he finds that power, in politics as in mechanics, he cannot 
be at a loss to apply it. In the monastic institutions, in 



154 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

my opinion, was found a great power for the mechanism 
of politic benevolence. There were revenues with a public 
direction; there were men wholly set apart and dedicated 
to public purposes, without any other than public ties and 
public principles ; men without the possibility of convert- 
ing the estate of the community into a private fortune; 
men denied to self-interests, whose avarice is for some 
community ; men to whom persona! poverty is honour, and 
implicit obcldience stands in the place of freedom. In vain 
shall a man look to the possibility of making such things 
when he wants them. The winds blow as they list. 
These institutions are the products of enthusiasm ; they 
are the instruments of wisdom. Wisdom cannot create 
materials ; they are the gifts of nature or of chance ; her 
pride is in the use. The perennial existence of bodies 
corporate and their fortunes are things particularly suited 
to a man who has long views ; who meditates designs that 
require time in fashioning, and which propose duration 
when they are accomplished. He is not deserving to 
rank high, or even to be mentioned in the order of great 
statesmen, who, having obtained the command and direc- 
tion of such a power as existed In the wealth, the disci- 
pline, and the habits of such corporations, as those which 
you have rashly destroyed, cannot find any way of con- 
verting it to the great and lasting benefit of his country. 
On the view of this subject, a thousand uses suggest them- 
selves to a contriving mind. To destroy any power, 
grov/ing wild from the rank productive force of the human 
mind, is almost tantamount, in the moral world, to the 
destruction of the apparently active properties of bodies 
in the material. It would be like the attempt to destroy 
(if it were in our competence to destroy) the expansive 
force _of fixed air in nitre, or the power of steam, or of 
electricity, or of magnetism. These energies always 
existed in nature, and they were always discernible. They 
seemed, some of them unserviceable, some noxious, some 
no ^ better than a sport to children; until contemplative 
ability, combining with practic skill, tamed their wild 
nature, subdued them to use, and rendered them at once 
the most powerful and the most tractable "agents, in sub- 
servience to the great views and designs of men. Did 
fifty thousand persons, whose mental and whose bodily 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 155 

labour you might direct, and so many hundred thousand 
a year of a revenue, which was neither lazy nor super- 
stitious, appear too big for your abilities to wield? Had 
you no way of using the men but by converting monks 
into pensioners? Had you no way of turning the revenue 
to account, but through the improvident resource of a 
spendthrift sale? If you were thus destitute of mental 
funds, the proceeding is in its natural course. Your poli- 
ticians do not understand their trade; and therefore they 
sell their tools. 

But the institutions savour of superstition in their very 
principle; and they nourish it by a permanent and stand- 
ing influence. " This I do not mean to dispute ; but this 
ought not to hinder you from deriving from superstition 
itself any resources which may thence be furnished for the 
public advantage. You derive benefits from many disposi- 
tions and many passions of the human mind, which are of 
as doubtful a colour, In the moral eye, as superstition 
itself. It was your business to correct and mitigate every- 
thing which was noxious in this passion, as In all the 
passions. But Is superstition the greatest of all possible 
vices? In its possible excess I think It becomes a very 
great evil It is, however, a moral subject; and of course 
admits of all degrees and all modification. Superstition 
Is the religion of feeble minds ; and they must be tolerated 
In an intermixture of It, in some trifling or some enthu- 
siastic shape or other, else you will deprive weak minds of 
a resource found necessary to the strongest. The body 
of ail true religion consists, to be sure, in obedience to 
the will of the Sovereign of the world ; in a confidence in 
his declarations ; and In Imitation of his perfections. The 
rest Is our own. It may be prejudicial to the great end; 
it may be auxiliary. Wise men, who as such are not 
admirers (not admirers at least of the Munera Terra), are 
not violently attached to these things, nor do they violently 
hate them. Wisdom Is not the most severe corrector of 
folly. They are the rival follies, which mutually wage so 
unrelenting a war ; and which make so cruel a use of their 
advantages, as they can happen to engage the immoderate 
vulgar, on the one side, or the other, In their quarrels. 
Prudence would be neuter; but if, In the contention 
between fond attachment and fierce antipathy concerning 



156 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

things in their nature not made to produce such heats, a 
prudent man were obliged to make a choice of what errors 

and excesses of enthusiasm he would condemn or bear, 
perhaps he would think the superstition which builds, to 
be more tolerable than that which demolishes that which 

adorns a country, than that which deforms it that which 
endows, than that which plunders that which disposes to 
mistaken beneficence, than that which stimulates to real 
injustice that which leads a man to refuse to himself 
lawful pleasures, than that which snatches from others the 
scanty subsistence of their self-denial. Such, I think, is 
very nearly the state of the question between the ancient 
founders of monkish superstition, and the superstition of 
the pretended philosophers of the hour. 

For the present I postpone all consideration of the sup- 
posed public profit of the sale, which however I conceive 
to be perfectly delusive. I shall here only consider It as 
a transfer of property. On the policy of that transfer 1 
shall trouble you with a few thoughts. 

In every prosperous community something more is pro- 
duced than goes to the immediate support of the producer. 
This surplus forms the income of the landed capitalist. 
It will be spent by a proprietor who does not labour. 
But this Idleness Is Itself the spring of labour ; this repose 
the spur to Industry. The only concern of the state Is, 
that the capital taken in rent from the land, should be 
returned again to the Industry from whence It came; and 
that Its expenditure should be with the least possible detri- 
ment to the morals of those who expend it, and to those 
of tbe people to whom It is returned. 

In all the views of receipt, expenditure, and personal 
employment, a sober legislator would carefully compare the 
possessor whom he was recommended to expel, with the 
stranger who was proposed to fill his place. Before the 
Inconveniences are incurred which must attend all violent 
revolutions In property through extensive confiscation, we 
ought to have some rational assurance that the purchasers 
of the confiscated property will be In a considerable degree 
more laborious, more virtuous, more sober, less disposed 
to extort an unreasonable proportion of the gains of the 
labourer, or to consume on themselves a larger share than 
is fit for the measure of an Individual ; or that they should 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 157 

be qualified to dispense the surplus in a more steady and 
equal mode, so as to answer the purposes of a politic 
expenditure, than the old possessors, call those possessors 
bishops, or canons, or commendatory abbots, or monks, 
or what you please. The monks are lazy. Be it so. 
Suppose them no otherwise employed than by singing in 
the choir. They are as usefully employed as those who 
neither sing nor say. As usefully even as those who sing 
upon the stage. They are as usefully employed as if they 
worked from dawn to dark in the innumerable servile, 
degrading, unseemly, unmanly, and often most unwhole- 
some and pestiferous occupations, to which by the social 
economy so many wretches are inevitably doomed. If it 
were not generally pernicious to disturb the natural course 
of things, and to impede, in any degree, the great wheel 
of circulation which is turned by the strangely-directed 
labour of these unhappy people, I should be infinitely more 
inclined forcibly to rescue them from their miserable 
industry, than violently to disturb the tranquil repose of 
monastic quietude. Humanity, and perhaps policy, might 
better justify me in the one than in the other. It is a 
subject on which I have often reflected, and never reflected 
without feeling from it. I am sure that no consideration, 
except the necessity of submitting to the yoke of luxury, 
and the despotism of fancy, who in their own imperious 
way will distribute the surplus product of the soil, can 
justify the toleration of such trades and employments in 
a well-regulated state. But for this purpose of distribu- 
tion, it seems to me, that the idle expenses of monks are 
quite as well directed as the idle expenses of us lay- 
loiterers. 

When the advantages of the possession and of the pro- 
ject are on a par, there is no motive for a change. But 
in the present case, perhaps, they are not upon a par, 
and the difference is in favour of the possession. It does 
not appear to me, that the expenses of those whom you 
are going to expel, do in fact take a course so directly and 
so generally leading to vitiate and degrade and render 
miserable those through whom they pass, as the expenses 
of those favourites whom you are intruding into their 
houses. Why should the expenditure of a great landed 
property, which is a dispersion of the surplus product of 



158 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

the soil, appear intolerable to you or to me, when it takes 
its course throug-h the accumulation of vast libraries, 
which are the history of the force and weakness of the 
human mind ; through great collections of ancient records, 
medals, and coins, which attest and explain laws and 
customs ; through paintings and statues, that, by imitat- 
ing nature, seem to extend the limits of creation ; through 
grand monuments of the dead, which continue the regards 
and connexions of life beyond the grave; through collec- 
tions of the specimens of nature, which become a represen- 
tative assembly of all the classes and families of the world, 
that by disposition facilitate, and, by exciting curiosity, 
open the avenues to science? If by great permanent 
establishments, all these objects of expense are better 
secured from the inconstant sport of personal caprice and 
personal extravagance, are they worse than if the same 
tastes prevailed in scattered individuals? Does not the 
sweat of the mason and carpenter, who toil in order to 
partake the sweat of the peasant, flow as pleasantly and 
as salubriously, in the construction and repair of the 
majestic edifices of religion, as in the painted booths and 
sordid sties of vice and luxury; as honourably and as 
profitably in repairing those sacred works, which grow 
hoary with innumerable years, as on the momentary 
receptacles of transient voluptuousness ; in opera-houses, 
and brothels, and gaming-houses, and club-houses, and 
obelisks in the Champ de Mars? Is the surplus product 
of the olive and the vine worse employed in the frugal 
sustenance of persons, whom the fictions of a pious 
imagination raise to dignity by construing in the service of 
God, than in pampering the innumerable multitude of 
those who are degraded by being made useless domestics, 
subservient to the pride of man? Are the decorations of 
temples an expenditure less worthy a wise man, than 
ribbons, and laces, and national cockades, and petit 
maisons, and petit soupers, and all the innumerable fop- 
peries and follies, in which opulence sports away the 
burthen of its superfluity? 

We tolerate even these; not from love of them, but for 
fear of worse. We tolerate them, because property and 
liberty, to a degree, require that toleration. But why 
proscribe the other, and surely, in every point of view, 
the more laudable use of estates? Why, through the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 159 

violation of all property, through an outrage upon every 
principle of liberty, forcibly carry them from the better to 
the worse? 

This comparison between the new individuals and the 
old corps is made upon a supposition that no reform could 
be made in the latter. But, in a question of reformation, 
1 always consider corporate bodies, whether sole or con- 
sisting of many, to be much more susceptible of a public 
direction by the power of the state, in the use of their 
property, and in the regulation of modes and habits of life 
in their members, than private citizens ever can be, or 
perhaps ought to be : and this seems to me a very material 
consideration for those who undertake anything which 
merits the name of a politic enterprise. So far as to the 
estates of monasteries. 

With regard to the estates possessed by bishops and 
canons, and commendatory abbots, I cannot find out for 
what reason some landed estates may not be held otherwise 
than by inheritance. Can any philosophic spoiler under- 
take to demonstrate the positive or the comparative evil 
of having a certain, and that too a large, portion of landed 
property, passing in succession through persons whose 
title to it is, always in theory, and often in fact, an eminent 
degree of piety, morals, and learning; a property, which, 
by its destination, in their turn, and on the score of merit, 
gives to the noblest families renovation and support, to 
the lowest the means of dignity and elevation ; a property, 
the tenure of which is the performance of some duty 
(whatever value you may choose to set upon that duty), 
and the character of whose proprietors demands, at least, 
an exterior decorum, and gravity of manners ; who are 
to exercise a generous but temperate hospitality; part of 
whose income they are to consider as a trust for charity ; 
and who, even when they fail in their trust, when they 
slide from their character, and degenerate into a mere 
common secular nobleman or gentleman, are in no respect 
worse than those who may succeed them in their forfeited 
possessions? Is it better that estates should be held by 
those who have no duty, than by those who have one? 
by those whose character and destination point to virtues, 
than by those who have no rule and direction in the 
expenditure of their estates but their own will and appe- 
tite? Nor are these estates held altogether in the 



160 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

character or with the evils supposed Inherent In mortmain. 
They pass from hand to hand with a more rapid circula- 
tion than any other. No excess Is good; and therefore 
too great a proportion of landed property may be held 
officially for life : but It does not seem to me of material 
injury to aey commonwealth, that there should exist some 
estates that have a chance of being" acquired by other 
means than the previous acquisition of money. 



[PART II] 

THIS letter is grown to a great length, though It Is Indeed 
short with regard to the Infinite extent of the subject. 
Various avocations have from time to time called my mind 
from the subject. I was not sorry to give myself leisure 
to observe whether, In the proceeding's of the National 
Assembly, I might not find reasons to change or to qualify 
some of my first sentiments. Everything has confirmed 
me more strongly In my first opinions. It was my original 
purpose to take a view of the principles of the National 
Assembly with regard to the great and fundamental estab- 
lishments; and to compare the whole of what you have 
substituted In the place of what you have destroyed, with 
the several members of our British constitution. But this 
plan is of a greater extent than at first I computed, and 
1 find that you have little desire to take the advantage of 
any examples. At present I must content myself with 
some remarks upon your establishments; reserving for 
another time what I proposed to say concerning the spirit 
of our British monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, as 
practically they exist. 

I have taken a view of what has been done by the 
governing power In France. I have certainly spoken of It 
with freedom. Those whose principle it is to despise the 
ancient, permanent sense of mankind, and to set up a 
scheme of society on new principles, must naturally expect 
that such of us, who think better of the judgment of the 
human race than of theirs, should consider both them and 
their devices, as men and schemes upon their trial. They 
must take it for granted that we attend much to their 
reason, but not at all to their authority. They have not 
one of the great Influencing prejudices of mankind in their 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 161 

favour. They avow their hostility to opinion. Of course 
they must expect no support from that influence, which, 
with every other authority, they have deposed from the 

seat of Its jurisdiction. 

1 can never consider this Assembly as anything else than 
a voluntary association of men, who have availed them- 
selves of circumstances to seize upon the power of the 
state. They have not the sanction and authority of the 
character under which they first met. They have assumed 
another of a very different nature; and have completely 
altered and inverted all the relations in which they origin- 
ally stood. They do not hold the authority they exercise 
under any constitutional law of the state. They have 
departed from the instructions of the people by whom they 
were sent; which instructions, as the Assembly did not 
act in virtue of any ancient usage or settled law, were the 
sole source of their authority. The most considerable of 
their acts have not been done by great majorities ; and In 
this sort of near divisions, which carry only the construc- 
tive authority of the whole, strangers will consider reasons 
as well as resolutions. 

If they had set up this new, experimental government, 
as a necessary substitute for an expelled tyranny, man- 
kind would anticipate the time of prescription, which, 
through long usage, mellows into legality governments 
that were violent in their commencement. All those who 
have affections which lead them to the conservation of 
civil order would recognise, even in its cradle, the child 
as legitimate, which has been produced from those prin- 
ciples of cogent expediency to which all just governments 
owe their birth, and on which they justify their continu- 
ance. But they will be late and reluctant in giving- any 
sort of countenance to the operations of a power, "which 
has derived its birth from no law and no necessity ; but 
which on the contrary has had its origin In those vices 
and sinister practices by which the social union is often 
disturbed and sometimes destroyed. This Assembly has 
hardly a year's prescription. We have their own word 
for it that they have made a revolution. To make a revo- 
lution is a measure which, prima fronte, requires an 
apology. To make a revolution is to subvert the ancient 
state of our country; and no common reasons are called 
for to justify so violent a proceeding. The sense of man- 



162 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

kind authorizes us to examine Into the mode of acquiring 
new power, and to criticise on the use that Is made of It, 
with less awe and reverence than that which is usually 
conceded to a settled and recognised authority. 

In obtaining" and securing' their power, the Assembly 
proceeds upon principles the most opposite to those which 
appear to direct them. In the use of It. An observation on 
this difference will let us into the true spirit of their con- 
duct. Everything which they have done, or continue to 
do, In order to obtain and keep their power, Is by the most 
common arts. They proceed exactly as their ancestors of 
ambition have done before them. Trace them through all 
their artifices, frauds, and violences, you can find nothing 
at all that Is new. They follow precedents and examples 
with the punctilious exactness of a pleader. They never 
depart an Iota from the authentic formulas of tyranny 
and usurpation. But In all the regulations relative to the 
public good, the spirit has been the very reverse of this. 
There they commit the whole to the mercy of untried 
speculations; they abandon the dearest interests of the 
public to those loose theories, to which none of them would 
choose to trust the slightest of his private concerns. They 
make this difference, because in their desire of obtaining 
and securing power they are thoroughly In earnest; there 
they travel In the beaten road. The public Interests, be- 
cause about them they have no real solicitude, they 
abandon wholly to chance : I say to chance, because their 
schemes have nothing In experience to prove their tendency 
beneficial. 

We must always see with a pity not unmixed with 
respect, the errors of those who are timid and doubtful of 
themselves with regard to points wherein the happiness 
of mankind Is concerned. But In these gentlemen there 
Is nothing of the tender, parental solicitude, which fears 
to cut up the Infant for the sake of an experiment. In the 
vast ness of their promises, and the confidence of their 
predictions, they far outdo all the boasting of empirics. 
The arrogance of their pretensions in a manner provokes 
arid challenges us to an Inquiry Into their foundation. 

I am convinced that there are men of considerable parts 
among the popular leaders in the National Assembly. 
Some of them display eloquence In their speeches and 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 163 

their writings. This cannot be without powerful and 
cultivated talents. But eloquence may exist without a 
proportionable degree of wisdom. When I speak of 
ability, 1 am obliged to distinguish. What they have done 
towards the support of their system bespeaks no ordinary 
men. In the system itself, taken as the scheme of a 
republic constructed for procuring the prosperity and 
security of the citizen, and for promoting the strength and 
grandeur of the state, I confess myself unable to find out 
anything which displays, in a single instance, the work 
of a comprehensive and disposing mind, or even the pro- 
visions of a vulgar prudence. Their purpose everywhere 
seems to have been to evade and slip aside from difficulty, 
This it has been the glory of the great masters In all the 
arts to confront, and to overcome; and when they had 
overcome the first difficulty, to turn It into an Instrument 
for new conquests over new difficulties; thus to enable 
them to extend the empire of their science; and even to 
push forward, beyond the reach of their original thoughts , 
the landmarks of the human understanding Itself. Diffi- 
culty is a severe instructor, set over us by the supreme 
ordinance of a parental Guardian and Legislator, who 
knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us 
better too. Pater ipse colendt hand facilem esse viam 
volute. He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, 
and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. 
This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an In- 
timate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to 
consider it in all Its relations. It will not suffer us to be 
superficial. It is the want of nerves of understanding for 
such a task, it is the degenerate fondness for tricking 
short-cuts, and little fallacious facilities, that has in so 
many parts of the world created governments with 
arbitrary powers. They have created the late arbitrary 
monarchy of France. They have created the arbitrary 
republic of Paris. With them defects in wisdom are to 
be supplied by the plenitude of force. They get nothing 
by it. Commencing their labours on a principle of sloth, 
they have the common fortune of slothful men. The diffi- 
culties, which they rather had eluded than escaped, meet 
them again in their course; they multiply and thicken on 
them ; they are involved, through a labyrinth of confused 



1 64 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

detail, In an industry without limit, and without direction ; 
and, in conclusion, the whole of their work becomes feeble, 
vicious, and insecure. 

It is this inability to wrestle with difficulty which laas 
obliged the arbitrary Assembly of France to commence 
their schemes of reform with abolition and total destruc- 
tion. 1 But is it in destroying and pulling" down that skill 
is displayed? Your mob can do this as well at least as 
your assemblies. The shallowest understanding, the 
rudest hand, is more than equal to that task. Rag*e and 
phrensy will pull down more in half an hour, than prud- 
ence, deliberation ? and foresight can build up in a hundred 
years. The errors and defects of old establishments are 
visible and palpable. It calls for little ability to point them 
out; and where absolute power is given, it requires but 
a word wholly to abolish the vice and the establishment 
together. The same lazy but restless disposition, which 
loves sloth and hates quiet, directs the politicians, when 
they come to work for supplying the place of what they 
have destroyed. To make everything the re\ r erse of what 
they have seen is quite as easy as to destroy. No difficul- 
ties occur in what has never been tried. Criticism is 
almost baffled in discovering the defects of what has not 
existed ; and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all 
the wide field of imagination, in which they may expatiate 
with little or no opposition. 

At once to preserve and to reform is quite another thing. 
When the useful parts of an old establishment are kept, 
and what is superadded is to be fitted to what is retained , a 
vigorous mind, steady, persevering attention, various 

l A leading member of the Assembly,, M. Rabaud de St. Ettenne, 
has expressed the principle of all their proceedings as clearly as 
possible Nothing can be more simple : " Tons les lia'blis semens en 
Prance couronnent le malheur du peuple : pour le rendre heureux il 
faut le flnouveler; changer ses idles; changer ses loix ; changer ses 
mceurs; . . . changer les hcmmes ; changer les chases; changer les 
mots , . . tout dl truir e ; oui, tout dltruire ; puisque tout est a 
Tecreer" This gentleman was chosen president in an assembly not 
sitting at the Quinze-vingt, or the Petits liaisons; and composed of 
persons giving themselves out to be rational beings; but neither his 
ideas, language, or conduct, differ in the smallest degree from the 
discourses, opinions, and actions of those within and without the 
Assembly, who direct the operations of the machine now at work in 
France. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 165 

powers of comparison and combination, and the resources 
of an understanding- fruitful in expedients, are to be exer- 
cised ; they are to be exercised In a continued conflict with 
the combined force of opposite vices, with the obstinacy 
that rejects all improvement, and the levity that is fatigued 
and disgusted with everything of which it is in possession. 
But you may object "A process of this kind is slow. It 
is not fit for an assembly, which glories in performing in 
a few months the work of ages. Such a mode of reform- 
ing", possibly, might take up many years." Without ques- 
tion it might ; and it ought It is one of the excellencies 
of a method in which time is amongst the assistants, that 
its operation is slow, and in some cases almost impercep- 
tible. If circumspection and caution are a part of wisdom, 
when we work only upon inanimate matter, surely they 
become a part of duty too, when the subject of our demoli- 
tion and construction is not brick and timber, but sentient 
beings, by the sudden alteration of whose state, condition, 
and habits, multitudes may be rendered miserable. But it 
seems as if it were the prevalent opinion in Paris, that an 
unfeeling heart, and an undoubting confidence, are the 
sole qualifications for a perfect legislator. Far different 
are my ideas of that high office. The true lawgiver ought 
to have a heart full of sensibility. He ought to love and 
respect his kind, and to fear himself. It may be allowed 
to his temperament to catch his ultimate object with an 
intuitive glance ; but his movements towards it ought to 
be deliberate. Political arrangement, as it is a work for 
social ends, is to be only wrought by social means. There 
mind must conspire with mind. Time is required to pro- 
duce that union of minds which alone can produce all the 
good we aim at. Our patience will achieve more than our 
force. If I might venture to appeal to what is so much 
out of fashion in Paris, I mean to experience, I should 
tell you, that in my course I have known, and, according 
to my measure, have co-operated with great men; and I 
have never yet seen any plan which has not been mended 
by the observations of those who were much inferior in 
understanding to the person who took the lead in the 
business. By a slow but well-sustained progress, the 
effect of each step is watched ; the good or ill success of 
the first gives light to us in the second ; and so, from light 



1 66 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

to light, we are conducted with safety through the whole 
series. We see that the parts or the system do not clash. 
i he evils latent in the most promising contrivances are 
provided for as they arise. One advantage is as little as 
possible sacrificed to another. We compensate, we recon- 
cile, we balance. We are enabled to unite into a con- 
sistent whole the various anomalies and contending 
principles that are found In the minds and affairs of men. 
From hence arises, not an excellence in simplicity, but one 
far superior, an excellence in composition. Where the 
great interests of mankind are concerned through a long- 
succession of generations, that succession ought to be 
admitted into some share in the councils which are so 
deeply to affect them. If justice requires this, the work 
itself requires the aid of more minds than one age can 
furnish. It is from this view of things that the best legis- 
lators have been often satisfied with the establishment of 
some sure, solid, and ruling principle in government; a 
power like that which some of the philosophers have called 
a plastic nature ; and having fixed the principle, they have 
left it afterwards to its own operation. 

To proceed in this manner, that is ? to proceed with a 
presiding principle, and a prolific energy, is with me the 
criterion of profound wisdom. What your politicians 
think the marks of a bold, hardy genius, "are only proofs 
of a deplorable want of ability. By their violent haste 
and their defiance of the process of nature, they are 
delivered over blindly to every projector and adventurer, 
to every alchymist and empiric. They despair of turning 
to account anything that Is common. Diet is nothing in 
their system of remedy. The worst of it is, that this their 
despair of curing common distempers by regular methods, 
arises not only from defect of comprehension, but, I fear, 
from some malignity of disposition. Your legislators 
seem to have taken their opinions of all professions, ranks, 
and ^offices, from the declamations and buffooneries of 
satirists ; who would themselves be astonished if they were 
held to the letter of their own descriptions. By lis'tening 
only to these, your leaders regard all things only on the 
side of their vices and faults, and view those vices and 
faults under every colour of exaggeration. It is un- 
doubtedly true, though it may seem paradoxical; but in 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 167 

general, those who are habitually employed in finding- and 
displaying- faults, are unqualified for the work of reforma- 
tion : because their minds are not only unfurnished with 
patterns of the fair and good, but by habit they come to 
take no delight in the contemplation of those things. By 
hating vices too much, they come to love men too little. 
It is therefore not wonderful, that they should be indis- 
posed and unable to serve them. From hence arises the 
complexional disposition of some of your guides to pull 
everything in pieces. At this malicious game they display 
the \vhole of their quadrimanous activity. As to the rest, 
the paradoxes of eloquent writers, brought forth purely 
as a sport of fancy, to try their talents, to rouse attention 
and excite surprise, are taken up by these gentlemen, not 
in the spirit of the original authors, as means of cultivating 
their taste and improving their style. These paradoxes 
become with them serious grounds of action, upon which 
they proceed in regulating the most important concerns of 
the state. Cicero ludicrously describes Cato as endeavour- 
ing to act, in the commonwealth, upon the school 
paradoxes, which exercised the wits of the junior students 
in the Stoic philosophy. If this was true of Cato, these 
gentlemen copy alter him in the manner of some persons 
who lived about his time pede nudo Catonem. Mr. 
Hume told me that he had from Rousseau himself the 
secrets of his principles of composition. That acute 
though eccentric observer had perceived, that to strike 
and interest the public, the marvellous must be produced ; 
that the marvellous of the heathen mythology had long 
since lost its effects; that giants, magicians, fairies, and 
heroes of romance which succeeded, had exhausted the 
portion of credulity which belonged to their age ; that now 
nothing was left to the writer but that species of the 
marvellous which might still be produced, and with as 
great an effect as ever, though in another way; that is, 
the marvellous in life, in manners, in characters, and in 
extraordinary situations, giving rise to new and unlooked- 
for strokes in politics and morals. I believe, that were 
Rousseau alive, and in one of his lucid intervals, he would 
be shocked at the practical phrensy of his scholars, who 
in their paradoxes are servile imitators, and even in their 
incredulity discover an implicit faith. 



i68 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Men who undertake considerable things, even in a 

regular way, ought to give us ground to presume ability. 
But the physician of the state, who, not satisfied with the 
cure of distempers, undertakes to regenerate constitutions, 
ought to show uncommon powers. Some very unusual 
appearances of wisdom ought to display themselves on 
the face of the designs of those, who appeal to no practice, 
and who copy after no model. Has any such been mani- 
fested? I shall take a view (it shall for the subject be a 
very short one) of what the Assembly has done, with 
regard, first, to the constitution of the legislature ; in the 
next place, to that of the executive power ; then to that of 
the judicature ; afterwards to the model of the army ; and 
conclude with the system of finance ; to see whether we can 
discover in any part of their schemes the portentous ability, 
which may justify these bold undertakers In the superiority 
which they assume over mankind. 

It is In the mode! of the sovereign and presiding part of 
this new republic, that we should expect their grand 
display. Here they were to prove their title to their proud 
demands. For the plan itself at large, and for the reasons 
on which it Is grounded, I refer to the journals of the 
Assembly of the 29th of September, 1789, and to the sub- 
sequent proceedings which have made any alterations in 
the plan. So far as In a matter somewhat confused I can 
see light, the system remains substantially as it has been 
originally framed. My few remarks will be such as regard 
its spirit, Its tendency, and Its fitness for framing a popular 
commonwealth, which they profess theirs to be, suited to 
the ends for which any commonwealth, and particularly such 
a commonwealth, Is made. At the same time, 1 mean to 
consider its consistency with itself and Its own principles. 

Old establishments are tried by their effects. If the 
people are happy, united, wealthy, and powerful, we pre- 
sume the rest. We conclude that to be good from whence 
good Is derived. In old establishments various correctives 
have been found for their aberrations from theory. Indeed 
they are the results of various necessities and expediences. 
They are not often constructed after any theory; theories 
are rather drawn from them. In them we often see the end 
best obtained, where the means seem not perfectly recon- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 169 

cilable to what we may fancy was the original scheme. 
The means taught by experience may be better suited to 
political ends than those contrived in the original project. 
They again react upon the primitive constitution, and 
sometimes improve the design Itself, from which they seem 
to have departed. I think all this might be curiously 
exemplified in the British Constitution. At worst, the 
errors and deviations of every kind in reckoning are found 
and computed, and the ship proceeds in her course. This 
is the case of old establishments ; but in a new and merely 
theoretic system, it is expected that every contrivance shall 
appear, on the face of it, to answer its ends ; especially 
where the projectors are no way embarrassed with an 
endeavour to accommodate the new building to an old one* 
either in the walls or on the foundations. 

The French builders, clearing away as mere rubbish 
whatever they found, and, like their ornamental gardeners, 
forming everything into an exact level, propose to rest the 
whole local and general legislature on three bases of three 
different kinds ; one geometrical, one arithmetical, and the 
third financial; the first of which they call the basis of 
territory; the second, the basis of population; and the 
third, the basis of contribution. For the accomplishment 
of the first of these purposes, they divide the area of their 
country into eighty-three pieces, regularly square, of eigh- 
teen leagues by eighteen. These large divisions are called 
Departments. These they portion, proceeding by square 
measurement, into seventeen hundred and twenty dis- 
tricts, called Communes. These again they subdivide, 
still proceeding by square measurement, into smaller 
districts called Cantons, making in all 6400. 

At first view this geometrical basis of theirs presents not 
much to admire or to blame. It calls for no great legis- 
lative talents. Nothing more than an accurate land 
surveyor, with his chain, sight, and theodolite, is requisite 
for such a plan as this. In the old divisions of the country, 
various accidents at various times, and the ebb and flow 
of various properties and jurisdictions, settled their 
bounds. These bounds were not made upon any fixed 
system undoubtedly. They were subject to some incon- 
veniences : but they were inconveniences for which use had 
found remedies, and habit had supplied accommodation 



270 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

and patience. In this new pavement of square within 
square, and this organization, and semi-organization, 

made on the system of Empedocles and Buff on, and not 
upon any politic principle, it is impossible that innumerable 
local inconveniences, to which men are not habituated, 
must not arise. But these I pass over, because it requires 
an accurate knowledge of the country, which I do not 
possess, to specify them. 

When these state surveyors came to take a view of their 
work of measurement, they soon found, that in politics the 
most fallacious of all things was geometrical demonstra- 
tion. They had then recourse to another basis (or rather 
buttress) to support the building, which tottered on that 
false foundation. It was evident, that the goodness of 
the soil, the number of the people, their wealth, and the 
largeness of their contribution, made such infinite varia- 
tions between square and square, as to render mensuration 
a ridiculous standard of power in the commonwealth, and 
equality in geometry the most unequal of all measures in 
the distribution of men. However, they could not give it 
up. But dividing their political and civil representation 
into three parts, they allotted one of those parts to the 
square measurement, without a single fact or calculation 
to ascertain whether this territorial proportion of repre- 
sentation was fairly assigned, and ought upon any principle 
really to be a third. Having, however, given to geometry 
this portion (of a third for her dower) out of compliment, I 
suppose, to that sublime science, they left the other two 
to be scuffled for between the other parts, population and 
contribution. 

When they came to provide for population, they were 
not able to proceed quite so smoothly as they had done in 
the field of their geometry. Here their arithmetic came 
to bear upon their juridical metaphysics. Had they stuck 
to their metaphysic principles, the arithmetical process 
would be simple indeed. Men, with them, are strictly 
equal, and are entitled to equal rights in their own govern- 
ment. Each head, on this system, would have its vote, 
and every man would vote directly for the person who was 
to represent him in the legislature. "But soft by regular 
degrees, not yet/* This metaphysic principle, to which law, 
custom, usage, policy, reason, were to yield, is to yield itself 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 171 

to their pleasure. There must be many degrees, and some 

stages, before the representative can come In contact with 
his constituent. Indeed, as we shall soon see, these two 
persons are to have no sort of communion with each other. 
First, the voters in the Canton, who compose what they 
call primary assemblies, are to have a qualification. What ! 
a qualification on the indefeasible rights of men? Yes; 
but it shall be a very small qualification. Our injustice 
shall be very little oppressive; only the local valuation of 
three days' labour paid to the public. Why, this is not 
much, I readily admit, for anything- but the utter subver- 
sion of your equalising principle. As a qualification it 
might as well be let alone; for it ansxvers no one purpose 
for which qualifications are established ; and, on your ideas, 
it excludes from a vote the man of all others whose natural 
equality stands the most in need of protection and defence : 
I mean the man who has nothing else but his natural 
equality to guard him. You orcler him to buy the right, 
which you before told him nature had given to him gratuit- 
ously at his birth, and of which no authority on earth could 
lawfully deprive him. With regard to the person who 
cannot come up to your market, a tyrannous aristocracy, 
as against him, is established at the very outset^ by you 
who pretend to be its sworn foe. 

The gradation proceeds. These primary assemblies of 
the Canton elect deputies to the Commune ; one for every 
two hundred qualified inhabitants. Here is the first 
medium put between the primary elector and the repre- 
sentative legislator; and here a new turnpike is fixed for 
taxing the rights of men with a second qualification : for 
none can be elected into the Commune who does not pay 
the amount of ten days* labour. Nor have we yet done. 
There is still to be another gradation. 1 These Com- 
munes, chosen by the Canton, choose to the Department: 

1 The Assembly, in executing the plan of their committee, made 
some alterations. They have struck out one stage in these ^ grada- 
tions ; this removes a part of the objection ; but the main objection, 
namely, that in their scheme the first constituent voter has no con- 
nexion with the representative legislator, remains in a!! its force. 
There are other alterations, some possibly for the better, some cer- 
tainly for the worse ; but to the author the merit or demerit of these 
smaller alterations appears to be of no moment where the scheme 
itself Is fundamentally vicious and absurd. 



172 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

and the deputies of the Department choose their deputies 
to the National Assembly. Here Is a third barrier of a 

senseless qualification. Every deputy to the National 
Assembly must pay, In direct contribution , to the value of 
a mark of silver. Of all these qualifying barriers we must 
think alike ; that they are Impotent to secure Independence ; 
strong only to destroy the rights of men. 

In all this process, which in its fundamental elements 
affects to consider only population upon a principle of 
natural right, there Is a manifest attention to property; 
which, however just and reasonable on other schemes. Is 
on theirs perfectly unsupportable. 

When they come to their third basis y that of Contribu- 
tion, we find that they have more completely lost sight of 
their rights of men. This last basis rests entirely on 
property. A principle totally different from the equality 
of men, and utterly Irreconcilable to It, is thereby admitted ; 
but no sooner is this principle admitted, than (as usual) It is 
subverted; and It is not subverted (as we shall presently 
see) to approximate the Inequality of riches to the level 
of nature. The additional share in the third portion of 
representation (a portion reserved exclusively for the higher 
contribution) Is made to regard the district only, and not 
the Individuals In It who pay. It Is easy to perceive, by 
the course of their reasonings, how much they were em- 
barrassed by their contradictory ideas of the rights of men 
and the privileges of riches. The committee of constitu- 
tion do as good as admit that they are wholly irreconcilable. 
"The relation with regard to the contributions, is without 
doubt null (say they) when the question Is on the balance 
of the political rights as between Individual and Individual ; 
without which personal equality would be destroyed, and 
an aristocracy of the rick would be established. But this 
inconvenience entirely disappears when the proportional 
relation of the contribution Is only considered in the great 
masses, and is solely between province and province; It 
serves in that case only to form a just reciprocal propor- 
tion between the cities, without affecting the personal 
rights of the citizens. f * 

Here the principle of contribution, as taken between man 
and man, is reprobated as nail, and destructive to equality : 
and as pernicious too ; because It leads to the establish- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 173 

ment of an aristocracy of the rich. However, it must not 
be abandoned. And the way of getting rid of the difficulty 
is to establish the inequality as between department and 
department, leaving all the individuals in each department 
upon an exact par. Observe, that this parity between 
individuals had been before destroyed, when the qualifica- 
tions within the departments were settled ; nor does it seem 
a matter of great importance whether the equality of men 
be injured by masses or individually. An individual is not 
of the same importance in a mass represented by a few, 
as in a mass represented by many. It would be toe much 
to tell a man jealous of his equality, that the elector has 
the same franchise who votes for three members as he who 
votes for ten. 

Now take it in the other point of view, and let us sup- 
pose their principle of representation according to con- 
tribution, that is, according to riches, to be well imagined, 
and to be a necessary basis for their republic. In this their 
third basis they assume, that riches ought to be respected, 
and that justice and policy require that they should entitle 
men, in some mode or other, to a larger share in the 
administration of public affairs ; it is now to be seen how 
the Assembly provides for the pre-eminence, or even for 
the security, of the rich, by conferring, in virtue of their 
opulence, that larger measure of power to their district 
which is denied to them personally. I readily admit 
(indeed I should lay it down as a fundamental principle) 
that in a republican government, which has a democratic 
basis, the rich do require an additional security above what 
is necessary to them in monarchies. They are subject to 
envy, and through envy to oppression. On the present 
scheme it is impossible to divine what advantage they 
derive from the aristocratic preference upon which the 
unequal representation of the masses is founded. The rich 
cannot feel it, either as a support to dignity, or as security 
to fortune : for the aristocratic mass is generated from 
purely democratic principles ; and the preference given to 
it in the general representation has no sort of reference 
to, or connexion with, the persons, upon account of whose 
property this superiority of the mass is established. If 
the contrivers of this scheme meant any sort of favour to 
the rich, in consequence of their contribution, they ought 



174 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

to have conferred the privilege either on the individual rich, 
or on some class formed of rich persons (as historians 
represent Servius Tullius to have done in the early con- 
stitution of Rome) ; because the contest between the rich 
and the poor is not a struggle between corporation and 
corporation, but a contest between men and men ; a com- 
petition not between districts, but between descriptions. It 
would answer its purpose better if the scheme were inverted ; 
that the votes of the masses were rendered equal ; and that 
the votes within each mass were proportioned to property. 

Let us suppose one man in a district (it is an easy sup- 
position) to contribute as much as an hundred of his 
neighbours. Against these he has but one vote. If there 
were but one representative for the mass, his poor neigh- 
bours would outvote him by an hundred to one for that 
single representative. Bad enough. But amends are to 
be made him. How ? The district, in virtue of his wealth, 
is to choose, say ten members instead of one : that is to 
say, by paying a very large contribution he has the happi- 
ness of being outvoted, an hundred to one, by the poor 
for ten representatives, instead of being outvoted exactly 
in the same proportion for a single member. In truth, 
instead of benefiting by this superior quantity of repre- 
sentation, the rich man is subjected to an additional hard- 
ship. The increase of representation within his province 
sets up nine persons more, and as many more than nine as 
there may be democratic candidates, to cabal and intrigue, 
and to flatter the people at his expense and to his oppres- 
sion. An interest is by this means held out to multitudes 
of the inferior sort, in obtaining a salary of eighteen livres 
a day (to them a vast object), besides the pleasure of a 
residence in Paris, and their share in the government of 
the kingdom. The more the objects of ambition are multi- 
plied and become democratic, just in that proportion the 
rich are endangered. 

Thus it must fare between the poor and the rich in the 
province deemed aristocratic, which in its internal relation 
is the very reverse of that character. In its external rela- 
tion, that is, its relation to the other provinces, I cannot 
see how the unequal representation, which is given to 
masses on account of wealth, becomes the means of pre- 
serving the equipoise and the tranquillity of the common- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 175 

wealth. For if it be one of the objects to secure the weak 
from being- crushed by the strong (as in all society un- 
doubtedly it is), how are the smaller and poorer of these 
masses to be saved from the tyranny of the more wealthy ? 
Is it by adding- to the wealthy further and more systematical 
means of oppressing them? When we come to a balance 
of representation between corporate bodies, provincial 
interests, emulations, and jealousies are full as likely to 
arise among them as among individuals; and their divi- 
sions are likely to produce a much hotter spirit of dissen- 
sion, and something leading much more nearly to a war. 

I see that these aristocratic masses are made upon what 
is called the principle of direct contribution. Nothing can 
be a more unequal standard than this. The indirect con- 
tribution, that which arises from duties on consumption, 
is in truth a better standard, and follows and discovers 
wealth more naturally than this of direct contribution. It 
is difficult indeed to fix a standard of local preference on 
account of the one, or of the other, or of both, because 
some provinces may pay the more of either or of both, 
on account of causes not intrinsic, but originating from 
those very districts over whom they have obtained a 
preference in consequence of their ostensible contribution. 
If the masses were independent, sovereign bodies, who 
were to provide for a federative treasury by distinct con- 
tingents, and that the revenue had not (as it has) many 
impositions running through the whole, which affect men 
individually, and not corporately, and which, by their 
nature, confound all territorial limits, something might be 
said for the basis of contribution as founded on masses. 
But of all things, this representation, to be measured by 
contribution, is the most difficult to settle upon principles 
of equity in a country, which considers its districts as 
members of a whole. For a great city, such as Bordeaux, 
or Paris, appears to pay a vast body of duties, almost out 
of all assignable proportion to other places, and its mass 
is considered accordingly. Bait are these cities the true 
contributors in that proportion? No. The consumers of 
the commodities imported into Bordeaux, who are scat- 
tered through all France, pay the import duties of 
Bordeaux. The produce of the vintage in Guienne and 
Languedoc give to that city the means of its contribution 



176 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

growing out of an export commerce. The land-holders 
who spend their estates in Paris, and are thereby the 
creators of that city, contribute for Paris from the pro- 
vinces out of which their revenues arise. Very nearly the 
same arguments will apply to the representative share 
given on account of direct contribution : because the direct 
contribution must be assessed on wealth real or presumed ; 
and that local wealth will itself arise from causes not local, 
and which therefore in equity ought not to produce a local 
preference. 

It is very remarkable, that in this fundamental regula- 
tion, which settles the representation of the mass upon 
the direct contribution, they have not yet settled how that 
direct contribution shall be laid, and how apportioned. 
Perhaps there Is some latent policy towards the continu- 
ance of the present Assembly in this strange procedure. 
However, until they do this, they can have no certain 
constitution. It must depend at last upon the system of 
taxation , and must vary with every variation in that 
system. As they have contrived matters, their taxation 
does not so much depend on their constitution, as their 
constitution on their taxation. This must introduce great 
confusion among the masses; as the variable qualification 
for votes within the district must, if ever real contested 
elections take place, cause infinite internal controversies. 

To compare together the three bases, not on their 
political reason, but on the ideas on which the Assembly 
works, and to try its consistency with itself, we cannot 
avoid observing, that the principle which the committee 
call the basis of population , does not begin to operate from 
the same point with the two other principles called the 
bases of territory and of contribution^ which are both of 
an aristocratic nature. The consequence is, that, where 
all three begin to operate together, there is the most absurd 
inequality produced by the operation of the former on the 
two latter principles. Every canton contains four square 
leagues, and is estimated to contain, on the average, 4000 
inhabitants, or 680 voters in the primary assemblies, which 
vary in numbers with the population of the canton, and 
send one deputy to the commune for every 200 voters. 
Nine cantons make a commune* 

Now let us take a canton containing a sea-port toivn of 
trade, or a great manufacturing town. Let us suppose the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 177 

population of this canton to be 12,700 inhabitants, or 2193 
voters, forming three primary assemblies, and sending- ten 
deputies to the commune. 

Oppose to this one canton, two others of the remaining: 
eight in the same commune. These we may suppose to 
have their fair population of 4000 inhabitants and 680 
voters each, or 8000 inhabitants and 1360 voters, both 
together. These will form only two primary assemblies, 
and send only six deputies to the commune. 

When the assembly of the commune comes to vote on 
the basis of territory, which principle is first admitted to 
operate in that assembly, the single canton, which has half 
the territory of the other two, will have ten voices to six 
in the election of three deputies to the assembly of the 
department, chosen on the express ground of a representa- 
tion of territory. This inequality, striking as it is, will 
be yet highly aggravated, if we suppose, as we fairly may, 
the several other cantons of the commune to fall propor- 
tionably short of the average population, as much as the 
principal canton exceeds it. 

Now as to the basis of contribution, which also is a 
principle admitted first to operate in the assembly of the 
commune. Let us again take one canton, such as is 
stated above. If the whole of the direct contributions paid 
by a great trading or manufacturing town be divided 
equally among the inhabitants, each individual will be 
found to pay much more than an individual living in the 
country according to the same average. The whole paid 
by the inhabitants of the former will be more than the 
whole paid by the inhabitants of the latter we may fairly 
assume one-third more. Then the 12,700 inhabitants, or 
21 93 voters of the canton, will pay as much as 19,050 
inhabitants, or 3289 voters of the other cantons , which 
are nearly the estimated proportion of inhabitants and 
voters of five other cantons. Now the 2193 voters will, as 
1 before said, send only ten deputies to the Assembly; the 
3289 voters will send sixteen. Thus, for an equal share 
in the contribution of the whole commune, there will be a 
difference of sixteen voices to ten in voting for deputies 
to be chosen on the principle of representing the general 
contribution of the whole commune. 

By the same mode of computation we shall find 15,875 



178 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Inhabitants, or 2741 voters of the other cantons, who pay 
one-sixth LESS to the contribution of the whole commune 
will have three voices MORE than the 12,700 inhabitants, or 
2193 voters of the one canton. 

Such is the fantastical and unjust inequality between 

mass and mass, in this curious repartition of the rights 
of representation arising- out of territory and contribution. 
The qualifications which these confer are in truth negative 
qualifications, that give a right in an inverse proportion 
to the possession of them. 

In this whole contrivance of the three bases, consider 
it in any light you please, I do not see a variety of objects 
reconciled in one consistent whole, but several contradic- 
tory principles reluctantly and irreconcilably brought and 
held together by your philosophers, like wild beasts shut 
up in a cage, to claw and bite each other to their mutual 
destruction. 

I am afraid I have gone too far into their way of con- 
sidering the formation of a constitution. They have much, 
but bad, metaphysics; much, but bad, geometry; much, 
but false, proportionate arithmetic; but if it were all as 
exact as metaphysics, geometry, and arithmetic ought tc 
be, and if their schemes were perfectly consistent in all 
their parts, it would make only a more fair and sightly 
vision. It is remarkable, that, in a great arrangement of 
mankind, not one reference whatsoever is to be found to 
anything moral or anything politic; nothing that relates 
to the concerns, the actions, the passions, the interests of 
men. Hominem nan sapiunt. 

You see I only consider this constitution as electoral, and 
leading by steps to the National Assembly. I do not enter 
into the internal government of the departments, and their 
genealogy through the communes and cantons. These 
local governments are, In the original plan, to be as nearly 
as possible composed in the same manner and on the same 
principles with the elective assemblies. They are each of 
them bodies perfectly compact and rounded in themselves. 

You- cannot but perceive in this scheme, that It has a 
direct and immediate tendency to sever France into a 
variety of republics, and to render them totally independent 
of each other without any direct constitutional means of 
coherence, connexion, or subordination, except what may 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 179 

be derived from their acquiescence in the determination 
of the general congress of the ambassadors from each 
Independent republic. Such in reality is the National 
Assembly, and such governments I admit do exist in the 
world, though in forms infinitely more suitable to the local 
and habitual circumstances of their people. But such 
associations, rather than bodies politic, have generally been 
the effect of necessity, not choice; and I believe the present 
French power is the very first body of citizens, who, 
having obtained full authority to do with their country 
what they pleased, have chosen to dissever it in this 
barbarous manner. 

It is impossible not to observe, that, in the spirit of this 
geometrical distribution, and arithmetical arrangement, 
these pretended citizens treat France exactly like a country 
of conquest. Acting as conquerors, they have imitated 
the policy of the harshest of that harsh race. The policy 
of such barbarous victors, who contemn a subdued people, 
and insult their feelings, has ever been, as much as in 
them lay, to destroy all vestiges of the ancient country, in 
religion, in polity, in laws, and in manners; to confound 
all territorial limits ; to produce a general poverty ; to put 
up their properties to auction; to crush their princes, 
nobles, and pontiffs; to lay low everything which had lifted 
its head above the level, or which could serve to combine 
or rally, in their distresses, the disbanded people, under 
the standard of old opinion. They have made France free 
in the manner in which those sincere friends to the rights 
of mankind, the Romans, freed Greece, Macedon, and 
other nations. They destroyed the bonds of their union, 
under colour of providing for the independence of each of 
their cities. 

When the members who compose these new bodies of 
cantons, communes, and departments, arrangements pur- 
posely produced through the medium of confusion, begin to 
act, they will find themselves in a great measure strangers 
to one another. The electors and elected throughout, 
especially in the rural cantons, will be frequently without 
any civil habitudes or connexions, or any of that natural 
discipline which is the soul of a true republic. Magis- 
trates and collectors of revenue are now no long-er 
acquainted with their districts, bishops with their dioceses, 



i So REFLECTIONS ON THE 

or curates with their parishes. These new colonies of the 
rights of men bear a strong resemblance to that sort of 
military colonies which Tacitus has observed upon in the 
declining policy of Rome. In better and wiser days (what- 
ever course they took with foreign nations) they were care- 
ful to make the elements of methodical subordination ^and 
settlement to be coeval; and even to lay the foundations 
of civil discipline in the military. 1 But, when all the good 
arts had fallen into rain, they proceeded, as your Assembly 
does, upon the equality of men, and with as little judg- 
ment, and as little care for those things ^which make a 
republic tolerable or durable. But in this, as ^well as 
almost every instance, your new commonwealth is born, 
and bred, and fed, in those corruptions which mark 
degenerated and worn-out republics. Your child comes 
into the world with the symptoms of death; the fades 
Hippocratica forms the character of its physiognomy, and 
the prognostic of its fate. 

The legislators who framed the ancient republics knew 
that their business was too arduous to be accomplished 
with no better apparatus than the metaphysics of an under- 
graduate, and the mathematics and arithmetic of an excise- 
man. They had to do with men, and they were obliged to 
study human nature. They had to do with citizens, and 
they were obliged to study the effects of those habits which 
are communicated by the circumstances of civil life. They 
were sensible that the operation of this second nature on 
the first produced a new combination ; and thence arose 
many diversities amongst men, according to their birth, 
their education, their professions, the periods of their lives, 
their residence in towns or in the country, their several 
ways of acquiring and of fixing property, and according to 
the quality of the property itself, all which rendered them 
as it were so many different species of animals. From 
hence they thought themselves obliged to dispose their 

2- Non, ut olim, universae legiones deducebantur cum tribunis, et 
centurionibus, et sui cujusque ordinis xniUtibus, ut consensu et caritate 
rempublicam afficerent ; sed ignoti inter se, diversis manipulis, sine 
rectore, sine affectibus mutuis, quasi ex alio genere mortaiium, repente 
in unum collect! , nurneras inagis quam colonia. Tac. Anna!. L 14, 
sect. 27. All this will be still more applicable to the unconnected, 
rotatory, biennial national assemblies, in this absurd and senseless 
constitution. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 181 

citizens into such classes, and to place them In such situa- 
tions in the state, as their peculiar habits might qualify 
them to fill, and to allot to them such appropriated privi- 
leg"es as might secure to them what their specific occasions 
required, and which might furnish to each description such 
force as might protect it in the conflict caused by the 
diversity of interests, that must exist, and must contend, 
in all complex society : for the legislator would have been 
ashamed, that the coarse husbandman should well know 
how to assort and to use his sheep, horses, and oxen, 
and should have enough of common sense, not to abstract 
and equalize them all into animals, without providing for 
each kind an appropriate food, care, and employment; 
whilst he, the economist, disposer, and shepherd of his 
own kindred, subliming himself into an airy metaphysician, 
was resolved to know nothing of his flocks but as men 
in general. It is for this reason that Montesquieu observed 
very justly, that in their classification of the citizens, the 
great legislators of antiquity made the greatest display of 
their powers, and even soared above themselves. It is 
here that your modern legislators have gone deep into the 
negative series, and sunk even below their own nothing. 
As the first sort of legislators attended to the different 
kinds of citizens, and combined them into one common- 
wealth, the others, the metaphysical and alchemistical 
legislators, have taken the direct contrary course. They 
have attempted to confound all sorts of citizens, as well 
as they could, into one homogeneous mass; and then they 
divided this their amalgama into a number of incoherent 
republics. They reduce men to loose counters, merely for 
the sake of simple telling, and not to figures whose power 
is to arise from their place in the table. The elements of 
their own metaphysics might have taught them better 
lessons. The troll of their categorical table might have 
informed them that there was something else in the intel- 
lectual world besides substance and quantity* They might 
learn from the catechism of metaphysics that there were 
eight heads more, 1 in every complex deliberation, which 
they have never thought of; though these, of all the ten, 
are the subjects on which the skill of man can operate 
anything at all. 

1 Qualitas, Relatio, Actlo, Passio, Ubi, Quancfo, Situs, Habitus. 



1 82 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

So far from this able disposition of some of the old 
republican legislators, which follows with a solicitous 
accuracy the moral conditions and propensities of men, 
they have levelled and crushed together all the orders 
which they found, even under the coarse unartificial 
arrangement of the monarchy, in which mode of govern- 
ment the classing of the citizens is not of so much import- 
ance as in a republic. It is true, however, that every such 
classification, if properly ordered, is good in all forms of 
government; and composes a strong barrier against the 
excesses of despotism, as well as it is the necessary means 
of giving effect and permanence to a republic. For want 
of something of this kind, if the present project of a 
republic should fail, all securities to a moderated freedom 
fail along with it ; all the indirect restraints which mitigate 
despotism are removed ; insomuch that if monarchy should 
ever again obtain an entire ascendency in France, under 
this or under any other dynasty, it will probably be, if not 
voluntarily tempered, at setting out, by the wise and 
virtuous counsels of the prince, the most completely arbi- 
trary power that has ever appeared on earth. This is to 
play a most desperate game. 

The confusion which attends on all such proceedings, 
they even declare to be one of their objects, and they hope 
to secure their constitution by a terror of a return of those 
evils which attended their making it. "By this," say 
they, "its destruction will become difficult to authority, 
which cannot break it up without the entire disorganiza- 
tion of the whole state." They presume, that if this 
authority should ever come to the same degree of power 
that they have acquired, it would make a more moderate 
and chastised use of it, and would piously tremble entirely 
to disorganize the state in the savage manner that they 
have done. They expect, from the virtues of returning 
despotism, the security which is to be enjoyed by the off- 
spring of their popular vices. 

I wish, Sir, that you and my readers would give an 
attentive perusal to the work of M. de Calonne, on this 
subject. It is indeed not only an eloquent, but an able 
and instructive, performance. I confine myself to what 
he says relative to the constitution of the new state, and 
to the condition of the revenue. As to the disputes of this 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 183 

minister with his rivals, I do not wish to pronounce upon 
them. As little do I mean to hazard any opinion con- 
cerning his ways and means, financial or political, for 
taking- his country out of its present disgraceful and de- 
plorable situation of servitude, anarchy, bankruptcy, and 
beggary. I cannot speculate quite so sanguinely as he 
does : but he is a Frenchman, and has a closer duty rela- 
tive to those objects, and better means of judging of them, 
than I can have. I wish that the formal avowal which 
he refers to, made by one of the principal leaders in the 
Assembly, concerning the tendency of their scheme to 
bring France not only from a monarchy to a republic, but 
from a republic to a mere confederacy, may be very par- 
ticularly attended to. It adds new force to my observa- 
tions : and indeed M. de Calonne's work supplies my 
deficiencies by many new and striking arguments on most 
of the subjects of this letter. 1 

It is this resolution, to break their country into separate 
republics, which has driven them into the greatest number 
of their difficulties and contradictions. If it were not for 
this, all the questions of exact equality, and these balances, 
never to be settled, of individual rights, population, and 
contribution, would be wholly useless. The representa- 
tion, though derived from parts, would be a duty which 
equally regarded the whole. Each deputy to the Assembly 
would be the representative of France, and of all its 
descriptions, of the many and of the few, of the rich and 
of the poor, of the great districts and of the small. All 
these districts would themselves be subordinate to some 
standing authority, existing independently of them, an 
authority in which their representation, and everything 
that belongs to it, originated, and to which it was pointed. 
This standing, unalterable, fundamental government 
would make, and it is the only thing which could make, 
that territory truly and properly a whole. With us, when 
we elect popular representatives, we send them to a 
council, in which each man individually is a subject, and 
submitted to a government complete in all its ordinary 
functions. With you the elective Assembly is the sove- 
reign, and the sole sovereign ; all the members are there- 
fore integral parts of this sole sovereignty. But with us it 
i See PEtat de la France, p. 363. 



184 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

is totally different. With us the representative, separated 
from the other parts, can have no action and no existence. 
The government is the point of reference of the several 
members and districts of our representation. This is the 
centre of our unity. This government of reference is a 
trustee for the whole, and not for the parts. So is the 
other branch of our public council, I mean the House of 
Lords. With us the king and the lords are several and 
joint securities for the equality of each district, each pro- 
vince, each city. When did you hear in Great Britain of 
any province suffering from the inequality of Its represen- 
tation ; what district from having no representation at all ? 
Not only our monarchy and our peerage secure the equality 
on which our unity depends, but it is the spirit of the House 
of Commons itself. The very inequality of representation , 
which is so foolishly complained of, is perhaps the very 
thing which prevents us from thinking or acting as mem- 
bers for districts. Cornwall elects as many members as all 
Scotland. But is Cornwall better taken care of than 
Scotland? Few trouble their heads about any of your 
bases, out of some giddy clubs. Most of those who wish 
for any change, upon any plausible grounds, desire it on 
different ideas. 

Your new constitution is the very reverse of ours 5n its 
principle; and I am astonished how any persons could 
dream of holding out anything done in it, as an example 
for Great Britain. With you there is little, or rather no, 
connexion between the last representative and the first 
constituent. The member who goes to the National As- 
sembly is not chosen by the people, nor accountable to 
them. There are three elections before he is chosen : two 
sets of magistracy intervene between him and the primary 
assembly, so as to render him, as I have said, an ambassa- 
dor of a state, and not the representative of the people 
within a state. By this the whole spirit of the election is 
changed ; nor can any corrective, which your constitution- 
mongers have devised, render him anything else than what 
he is. The very attempt to do it would inevitably intro- 
duce a confusion, if possible, more horrid than the present. 
There is no way to make a connection between the original 
constituent and the representative, but by the circuitous 
means which may lead the candidate to apply in the first 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 185 

instance to the primary electors, In order that by their 
authoritative instructions (and something* more perhaps) 
these primary electors may force the two succeeding bodies 
of electors to make a choice agreeable to their wishes. 
But this would plainly subvert the whole scheme. It 
would be to plunge them back into that tumult and con- 
fusion of popular election, which, by their interposed grada- 
tion of elections, they mean to avoid, and at length to 
risk the whole fortune of the state with those who have 
the least knowledge of it, and the least interest in it. 
This is a perpetual dilemma, into which they are thrown 
by the vicious, weak, and contradictory principles they 
have chosen. Unless the people break up and level this 
gradation, it is plain that they do not at all substantially 
elect to the Assembly ; indeed they elect as little in appear- 
ance as reality. 

What is it we all seek for in an election? To answer its 
real purposes, you must first possess the means of know- 
ing the fitness of your man; and then you must retain 
some hold upon him by personal obligation or dependence. 
For what end are these primary electors complimented, 
or rather mocked, with a choice? They can never know 
anything of the qualities of him that is to serve them, 
nor has he any obligation whatsoever to them. Of all 
the powers unfit to be delegated by those who have any 
real means of judging, that most peculiarly unfit is what 
relates to a personal choice. In case of abuse, that body 
of primary electors never can call the representative to an 
account for his conduct. He is too far removed from 
them in the chain of representation. If he acts im- 
properly at the end of his two years* lease, it does not 
concern him for two years more. By the new French 
constitution the best and the wisest representatives go 
equally with the worst into this Litribus Pairum. Their 
bottoms are supposed foul, and they must go into dock to 
be refitted. Every man who has served in an assembly is 
ineligible for two years after. Just as these magistrates 
begin to learn their trade, like chimney-sweepers, they are 
disqualified for exercising it. Superficial, new, petulant 
acquisition, and interrupted, dronish, broken, ill recollec- 
tion, is to be the destined character of all your future 
governors. Your constitution has too much of jealousy to 



1 86 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

have much of sense in it. You consider the breach of trust 
in the representative so principally, that you do not at all 
regard the question of his fitness to execute it. 

This purgatory interval is not unfavourable to a faithless 
representative, who may be as good a canvasser as he was 
a bad governor. In this time he may cabal himself into a 
superiority over the wisest and most virtuous. As, in the 
end, all the members of this elective constitution are 
equally fugitive, and exist only for the election, they may 
be no longer the same persons who had chosen him, to 
whom he is to be responsible when he solicits for a 
renewal of his trust. To call all the secondary electors of the 
Commune to account, is ridiculous, impracticable, and un- 
just; they may themselves have been deceived in their choice, 
as the third set of electors, those of the Department, may 
be in theirs. In your elections responsibility cannot exist. 

Finding no sort of principle of coherence with each other 
in the nature and constitution of the several new republics 
of France, I considered what coment the legislators had 
provided for them from any extraneous materials. Their 
confederations, their spectacles, their civic feasts, and their 
enthusiasm, I take no notice of; they are nothing but mere 
tricks; but tracing their policy through tlieir actions, I 
think I can distinguish the arrangements by which they 
propose to hold these republics together. The first is the 
confiscation, with the compulsory paper currency annexed 
to it ; the second is the supreme power of the city of Paris ; 
the third is the general army of the state. Of this last 
I shall reserve what I have to say, until I come to consider 
the army as a head by itself. 

As to the operation of the first (the confiscation and 
paper currency) merely as a cement, I cannot deny that 
these, the one depending on the other, may for some time 
compose some sort of cement, if their madness and folly 
in the management, and in the tempering of the parts to- 
gether, does not produce a repulsion in the very outset. 
But allowing to the scheme some coherence and some dura- 
tion, it appears to me, that if, after a while, the confisca- 
tion should not be found sufficient to support the paper 
coinage (as I am morally certain it will not), then, instead 
of cementing, it will add infinitely to the dissociation, dis- 
traction, and confusion of these confederate republics, both 
with relation to each other, and to the several parts within 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 187 

themselves. But if the confiscation should so far succeed 
as to sink the paper currency, the cement is gone xvith the 
circulation. In the mean time its binding force will be 
very uncertain, and it will straiten or relax with every 
variation in the credit of the paper. 

One thing only is certain in this scheme, which is an 
effect seemingly collateral, but direct, I have no doubt, in 
the minds of those who conduct this business, that is, its 
effect in producing an Oligarchy in every one of the re- 
publics. A paper circulation, not founded on any real 
money deposited or engaged for, amounting already to 
four-and-forty millions of English money, and this cur- 
rency by force substituted in the place of the coin of the 
kingdom, becoming thereby the substance of its revenue, 
as well as the medium of all its commercial and civil inter- 
course, must put the whole of what power, authority, and 
influence is left, in any form whatsoever it may assume, 
into the hands of the managers and conductors of this 
circulation. 

In England we feel the influence of the bank ; though it 
is only the centre of a voluntary dealing. He knows little 
indeed of the influence of money upon mankind, who does 
not see the force of the management of a monied concern, 
which is so much more extensive, and in its nature so 
much more depending on the managers, than any of ours. 
But this is not merely a money concern. There is another 
member in the system inseparably connected with this 
money management. It consists in the means of drawing 
out at discretion portions of the confiscated lands for sale ; 
and carrying on a process of continual transmutation of 
paper into land, and land into paper. When we follow this 
process in its effects, we may conceive something of the 
intensity of the force with which this system must operate. 
By this means the spirit of money-jobbing and specula- 
tion goes into the mass of land itself, and incorporates 
with it. By this kind of operation that species of property 
becomes (as it were) volatilized; it assumes an unnatural 
and monstrous activity, and thereby throws into the hands 
of the several managers, principal and subordinate, 
Parisian and provincial, all the representative of money, 
and perhaps a full tenth part of all the land in France, 
which has now acquired the worst and most pernicious part 
of the evil of a paper circulation, the greatest possible 



i88 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

uncertainty in its value. They have reversed the Latonian 
kindness to the landed property of Delos. They have sent 
theirs to be blown about, like the light fragments of a 
wreck, or as et littora circtim. 

The new dealers, being all habitually adventurers, and 
without any fixed habits or local predilections, will pur- 
chase to job out again, as the market of paper, or of money, 
or of land, shall present an advantage. For though a holy 
bishop thinks that agriculture will derive great advantages 
from the "enlightened" usurers who are to purchase the 
church confiscations, I, who am not a good, ^but an old 
farmer, with great humility beg leave to tell his late^ lord- 
ship, that usury is not a tutor of agriculture; and if the 
word "enlightened" be understood according to the new 
dictionary, as it always is in your new schoolSj I cannot 
conceive how a man's not believing in God can teach him 
to cultivate the earth with the least of any additional skill 
or encouragement. "Dm immortalibus sero" said an 
old Roman, when he held one handle of the plough, whilst 
Death held the other. Though you were to join in the 
commission all the directors of the two academies to the 
directors of the Caisse d'Escompte, one old, experienced 
peasant is worth them all. I have got more information 
upon a curious and interesting branch of husbandry, in 
one short conversation with an old Carthusian monk, than 
I have derived from all the Bank directors that I have 
ever conversed with. However, there is no cause for 
apprehension from the meddling of money-dealers with 
rural economy. These gentlemen are too wise in their 
generation. At first, perhaps, their tender and susceptible 
imaginations may be captivated with the innocent and 
unprofitable delights of a pastoral life ; but in a little time 
they will find that agriculture is a trade much more 
laborious, and much less lucrative, than that which they 
had left. After making its panegyric, they will turn their 
backs on it like their great precursor and prototype. They 
may, like him, begin by singing "Beatus ille " but what 
will be the end? 

Hcec ubi locutus fmnerator Alphius t 
Jam jam futurus rusticus 
Omnem redegit idibus pecuniam; 
Qucerit calendis ponere. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 189 

They will cultivate the Caisse d'&glise, under the sacred 
auspices of this prelate, with much more profit than Its 
vineyards and its corn-fields. They will employ their 
talents according- to their habits and their interests. They 
will not follow the plough whilst they can direct treasuries, 
and govern provinces. 

Your legislators, in everything new, are the very first 
who have founded a commonwealth upon gaming, and 
infused this spirit into It as Its vital breath. The great 
object in these politics Is to metamorphose France from 
a great kingdom into one great play-table; to turn its 
inhabitants into a nation of gamesters; to make specula- 
tion as extensive as life; to mix it with all its concerns; 
and to divert the whole of the hopes and fears of the people 
from their usual channels into the impulses, passions, and 
superstitions of those who live on chances. They loudly 
proclaim their opinion, that this their present system of a 
republic cannot possibly exist without this kind of gaming" 
fund ; and that the very thread of its life Is spun out of 
the staple of these speculations. The old gaming in funds 
was mischievous enough undoubtedly; but it was so only 
to individuals. Even when it had Its greatest extent, in 
the Mississippi and South Sea, it affected but few, com- 
paratively; where it extends farther, as in lotteries, the 
spirit has but a single object. But where the law, which 
in most circumstances forbids, and in none countenances, 
gaming, Is Itself debauched, so as to reverse its nature 
and policy, and expressly to force the subject to this 
destructive table, by bringing the spirit and symbols of 
gaming into the minutest matters, and engaging every- 
body in it, and in everything, a more dreadful epidemic 
distemper of that kind is spread than yet has appeared in 
the world. With you a man can neither earn nor buy 
his dinner without a speculation. What he receives in the 
morning will not have the same value at night. What 
he Is compelled to take as pay for an old debt will not be 
received as the same when he comes to pay a debt con- 
tracted by himself ; nor will it be the same when by prompt 
payment he would avoid contracting any debt at all. 
Industry must wither away. Economy must be driven 
from your country. Careful provision will have no exist- 
ence. Who will labour without knowing the amount of 



190 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

his pay? Who will study to Increase what none can esti- 
mate? Who will accumulate, when he does not know the 
value of what he saves? If you abstract it from its uses in 
gaming, to accumulate your paper wealth, would be not 
the providence of a man, but the distempered instinct of a 
jackdaw. 

The truly melancholy part of the policy of systematic- 
ally making a nation of gamesters is this, that though all 
are forced to play, few can understand the game; and 
fewer still are in a condition to avail themselves of the 
knowledge. The many must be the dupes of the few who 
conduct the machine of these speculations. What effect 
it must have on the country people is visible. The towns- 
man can calculate from day to day; not so the inhabitant 
of the country. When the peasant first brings his corn 
to market, the magistrate in the towns obliges him to take 
the assignat at par; when he goes to the shop with his 
money, he finds it seven per cent, the worse for crossing 
the way. This market he will not readily resort to again. 
The towns-people will be inflamed ; they will force the 
country people to bring their corn. Resistance will begin, 
and the murders of Paris and St. Denis may be renewed 
through all France. 

What signifies the empty compliment paid to the 
country, by giving it, perhaps, more than its share in the 
theory of yaur representation? Where have you placed 
the real power over monied and landed circulation ? Where 
have you placed the means of raising and falling the value 
of every man*s freehold? Those, whose operations can 
take from, or add ten per cent, to, the possessions of 
every man in France, must be the masters of every man 
in France. The whole of the power obtained by this 
revolution will settle in the towns among the burghers, 
and the monied directors who lead them. The landed 
gentleman, the yeoman, and the peasant, have, none of 
them, habits, or inclinations, or experience, which can 
lead them to any share in this the sole source of power 
and influence now left In France. The very nature of a 
country life, the very nature of landed property, in all the 
occupations, and all the pleasures they afford, render com- 
bination and arrangement (the sole way of procuring and 
exerting influence) in a manner impossible amongst 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 191 

country people. Combine them by all the art you can, and 
all the Industry, they are always dissolving into Individ- 
uality. Anything in the nature of incorporation is almost 
impracticable amongst them. Hope, fear, alarm, jealousy, 
the ephemerous tale that does its business and dies in a 
day, all these things, which are the reins and spurs by 
which leaders check or urge the minds of followers, are 
not easily employed, or hardly at all, amongst scattered 
people. They assemble, they arm, they act, with the 
utmost difficulty, and at the greatest charge. Their 
efforts, if ever they can be commenced, cannot be 
sustained. They cannot proceed systematically. If the 
country gentlemen attempt an influence through the mere 
income of their property, what is It to that of those who 
have ten times their income to sell, and who can ruin their 
property by bringing their plunder to meet it at market? 
If the landed man wishes to mortgage, he falls the value 
of his land, and raises the value of assignats. H 
augments the power of his enemy by the very means he 
must take to contend with him. The country gentleman 
therefore, the officer by sea and land, the man of liberal 
views and habits, attached to no profession, wil! be as 
completely excluded from the government of his country as 
if he were legislatively proscribed. It is obvious, that in 
the towns, all the things which conspire against the 
country gentleman combine in favour of the money 
manager and director. In towns combination Is natural. 
The habits of burghers, their occupations, their diversion, 
their business, their idleness, continually bring them into 
mutual contact. Their virtues and their vices are sociable ; 
they are always In garrison ; and they come embodied and 
half disciplined Into the hands of those who mean to form 
them for civil or military action. 

All these considerations leave no doubt on my mind, 
that, if this monster of a constitution can continue, France 
will be wholly governed by the agitators In corporations, 
by societies In the towns formed of directors of assignats, 
and trustees for the sale of church lands, attorneys, agents, 
money-jobbers, speculators, and adventurers, composing 
an ignoble oligarchy, founded on the destruction of the 
crown, the church, the nobility, and the people. Here end 
all the deceitful dreams and visions of the equality and 



1 92 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

rights of men. In " the Serbonlan bog " of this base 
oligarchy they are all absorbed, sunk, and lost for ever. 

Though human eyes cannot trace them, one would be 
tempted to think some great offences in France must cry 
to heaven, which has thought fit to punish It with a sub- 
jection to a vile and Inglorious domination, In which no 
comfort or compensation Is to be found in any even of 
those false splendours, which, playing about other tyran- 
nies, prevent mankind from feeling themselves dis- 
honoured even whilst they are oppressed. I must confess 
I am touched with a sorrow", mixed with some Indignation, 
at the conduct of a few men, once of great rank, and still 
of great character, who, deluded with specious names, 
have engaged In a business too deep for the line of their 
understanding to fathom ; who have lent their fair reputa- 
tion, and the authority of their high-sounding names, to 
the designs of men with whom they could not be 
acquainted ; and have thereby made their very virtues 
operate to the ruin of their country. 

So far as to the first cementing principle. 

The second material of cement for their new republic is 
the superiority of the city of Paris : and this I admit Is 
strongly connected with the other cementing principle of 
paper circulation and confiscation. It is in tills part of 
the project we must look for the cause of the destruction 
of all the old bounds of provinces and jurisdictions, eccle- 
siastical and secular, and the dissolution of all ancient 
combinations of things, as well as the formation of so 
many small unconnected republics. The power of the city 
of Paris is evidently one great spring of all their politics. 
It Is through the power of Paris, now become the centre 
and focus of jobbing, that the leaders of this faction 
direct, or rather command, the whole legislative and 
the whole executive government. Everything therefore 
must be done which can confirm the authority of that city 
over the other republics. Paris Is compact; she has an 
enormous strength, wholly disproportioned to the force of 
any of the square republics ; and this strength is collected 
and condensed within a narrow compass. Paris has a 
natural and easy connexion of its parts, which will not be 
affected by any scheme of a geometrical constitution, nor 
does it much signify whether Its proportion of representa- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 193 

don be more or less, since It has the whole draft of fishes 
In its drag-net. The other divisions of the kingdom being- 
hackled and torn to pieces, and separated from all their 
habitual means, and even principles of union, cannot, for 
some time at least, confederate against her. Nothing was 
to be left in all the subordinate members, but weakness, 
disconnexion, and confusion. To confirm this part of the 
plan, the Assembly has lately come to a resolution, that 
no two of their republics shall have the same commander- 
in-chief. 

To a person who takes a view of the whole, the strength 
of Paris, thus formed, will appear a system of general 
weakness. It Is boasted that the geometrical policy has 
been adopted, that all local Ideas should be sunk, and that 
the people should no longer be Gascons, Picards, Bretons, 
Normans; but Frenchmen, with one country, one heart, 
and one Assembly. But Instead of being all Frenchmen, 
the greater likelihood Is, that the Inhabitants of that region 
will shortly have no country. No man ever was attached 
by a sense of pride, partiality, or real affection, to a 
description of square measurement. He never will glory 
in belonging to the Chequer No. 71, or to any other badge- 
ticket. We begin our public affections in our families. 
No cold relation is a zealous citizen. We pass on to our 
neighbourhoods, and our habitual provincial connexions. 
These are Inns and resting-places. Such divisions of our 
country as have been formed by habit, and not by a sudden 
jerk of authority, were so many little images of the great 
country In which the heart found something which It could 
fill. The love to the whole is not extinguished by this 
subordinate partiality. Perhaps it is a sort of elemental 
training to those higher and more large regards, by which 
alone men come to be affected, as with their own concern, 
in the prosperity of a kingdom so extensive as that of 
France. In that general territory itself, as in the old 
name of provinces, the citizens are interested from old 
prejudices and unreasoned habits, and not on account of 
the geometric properties of its figure. The power and pre- 
eminence of Paris does certainly press down, and hold these 
republics together as long as It lasts. But, for the reasons I 
have already given you, I think it cannot last very long. 

Passing from the civil creating and the civil cementing 



194 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

principles of this constitution, to the National Assembly, 

which is to appear and act as sovereign, we see a body 
in its constitution with every possible power, and no 
possible external control We see a body without funda- 
mental laws, without established maxims, without 
respected rules of proceeding, which nothing can keep 
firm to any system whatsoever. Their idea of their powers 
is always taken at the utmost stretch of legislative com- 
petency, and their examples for common cases from the 
exceptions of the most urgent necessity. The future is to 
be in most respects like the present Assembly ; but, by the 
mode of the new elections and the tendency of the new 
circulations, it will be purged of the small degree of 
internal control existing in a minority chosen originally 
from various interests, and preserving something of their 
spirit If possible, the next Assembly must be worse than 
the present. The present, by destroying and altering 
everything, will leave to their successors apparently 
nothing popular to do. They will be roused by emula- 
tion and example to enterprises the boldest and the most 
absurd. To suppose such an Assembly sitting in perfect 
quietude is ridiculous. 

Your all-sufficient legislators, in their hurry to do every- 
thing at once, have forgot one thing that seems essential, 
and which I believe never has been before, in the theory 
or the practice, omitted by any projector of a republic. 
They have forgot to constitute a senate, or something of 
that nature and character. Never, before this time, was 
heard of a body politic composed of one legislative and 
active assembly, and its executive officers, without such 
a council ; without something to which foreign states 
might connect themselves; something to which, in the 
ordinary detail of government, the people could look up; 
something which might give a bias, and steadiness, and 
preserve something like consistency in the proceedings of 
state. Such a body kings generally have as a council. A 
monarchy may exist without it; but it seems to be in the 
very essence of a republican government. It holds a sort 
of middle place between the supreme power exercised by 
the people, or immediately delegated from them, and the 
mere executive. Of this there are no traces in your con- 
stitution; and, in providing nothing of this kind, your 



REVOLUTION IN PRANCE 195 

Solons and Numas have, as much as In anything else, 
discovered a sovereign incapacity. 

Let us now turn our eyes to what they have done to- 
wards the formation of an executive power. For this they 
have chosen a degraded king. This their first executive 
officer is to be a machine, without any sort of deliberative 
discretion in any one act of his function. At best he is 
but a channel to convey to the National Assembly such 
matter as it may import that body to know. If he had 
been made the exclusive channel, the power would not have 
been without its importance; though infinitely perilous to 
those who would choose to exercise it But public intelli- 
gence and statement of facts may pass to the Assembly 
with equal authenticity, through any other conveyance. 
As to the means, therefore, of giving a direction to 
measures by the statement of an authorized reporter, this 
office of intelligence is as nothing. 

To consider the French scheme of an executive officer* 
in its two natural divisions of civil and political. In the 
first it must be observed, that, according to the new con- 
stitution, the higher parts of judicature, in either of its 
lines, are not in the king. The king of France is not the 
fountain of justice. The judges, neither the original nor 
the appellate, are of his nomination. He neither proposes 
the candidates, nor has a negative on the choice. He is 
not even the public prosecutor. He serves only 'as a 
notary to authenticate the choice made of the judges In the 
several districts. By his officers he is to execute their 
sentence. When we look into the true nature of his 
authority, he appears to be nothing more than a chief of 
bumbailiffs, Serjeants at mace, catchpoles, jailers^ and 
hangmen. It is impossible to place anything called 
royalty in a more degrading point of view. A thousand 
times better had it been for the dignity of this unhappy 
prince, that he had nothing at all to do with the adminis- 
tration of justice, deprived as he is of all that is venerable, 
and all that is consolatory, in that function, without power 
of originating any process; without a power of suspen- 
sion, mitigation, or pardon. Everything in justice that 
is vile and odious is thrown upon him. It was not for 
nothing that the Assembly has been at such pains to 



196 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

remove the stigma from certain offices, when they are 
resolved to place the person who had lately been their king 
In a situation but one degree above the executioner, and 
In an office nearly of the same quality. It is not In nature, 
that, situated as the king of the French now is, he can 
respect himself, or can be respected by others. 

View this new executive officer on the side of his political 
capacity, as he acts under the orders of the National 
Assembly. To execute laws is a royal office; to execute 
orders is not to be a king. However, a political executive 
magistracy, though merely such, Is a great trust. It Is 
a trust Indeed that lias much depending upon its faithful 
and diligent performance, both In the person presiding In 
It and In all Its subordinates. Means of performing this 
duty ought to be given by regulation; and dispositions 
towards It ought to be Infused by the circumstances 
attendant on the trust. It ought to be environed with 
dignity, authority, and consideration, and It ought to lead 
to glory. The office of execution Is an office of exertion. 
It Is not from impotence we are to expect the tasks of 
power. What sort of person is a king to command execu- 
tory service, who has no means whatsoever to reward It? 
Not In a permanent office ; not In a grant of land ; no, not 
In a pension of fifty pounds a year ; not in the vainest and 
most trivia! title. In France the king Is no more the 
fountain of honour than he is the fountain of justice. All 
rewards, all distinctions, are In other hands. Those who 
serve the king can be actuated by no natural motive but 
fear; by a fear of everything except their master. His 
functions of Internal coercion are as odious as those which 
he exercises In the department of justice. If relief is to 
be given to any municipality, the Assembly gives it. If 
troops are to be sent to reduce them to obedience to the 
Assembly, the king Is to execute the order ; and upon every 
occasion he Is to be spattered over with the blood of his 
people. He has no negative; yet his name and authority 
Is used to enforce every harsh decree. Nay, he must 
concur in the butchery of those who shall attempt to free 
him from his Imprisonment, or show the slightest attach- 
ment to his person or to his ancient authority. 

Executive magistracy ought to be constituted In such a 
manner, that those who compose it should be disposed to 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 197 

love and to venerate those whom they are bound to obey. 
A purposed neglect, or, what Is worse, a literal but per- 
verse and malignant obedience, must be the ruin of the 
wisest counsels. In vain will the law attempt to antici- 
pate or to follow such studied neglects and fraudulent 
attentions. To make them act zealously is not in the com- 
petence of law. Kings, even such as are truly kings, may 
and ought to bear the freedom of subjects that are obnox- 
ious to them. They may too, without derogating- from 
themselves, bear even the authority of such persons, if it 
promotes their service. Louis the Thirteenth mortally 
hated the Cardinal de Richelieu; but his support of that 
minister against his rivals was the source of all the glory 
of his reign, and the solid foundation of his throne itself. 
Louis the Fourteenth, when come to the throne, did not 
love the Cardinal Mazarin; but for his interests he pre- 
served him in power. When old, he detested Louvois ; 
but for years, whilst he faithfully served his greatness, 
he endured his person. When George the Second took 
Mr. Pitt, who certainly was not agreeable to him, into 
his councils, he did nothing which could humble a wise 
sovereign. But these ministers, who were chosen by 
affairs, not by affections, acted in the name of, and in trust 
for, kings; and not as their avowed, constitutional, and 
ostensible masters. I think it impossible that any king, 
when he has recovered his first terrors, can cordially infuse 
vivacity and vigour into measures which he knows to be 
dictated by those, who, he must be persuaded, are in the 
highest degree ill affected to his person. Will any 
ministers, who serve such a king (or whatever he may be 
called) with but a decent appearance of respect, cordially 
obey the orders of those whom but the other day in his 
name they had committed to the Bastile? will they obey 
the orders of those whom, whilst they were exercising 
despotic justice upon them, they conceived they were treat- 
ing with lenity ; and from whom, in a prison, they thought 
they had provided an asylum? If you expect such obedi- 
ence, amongst your other innovations and regenerations, 
you ought to make a revolution in nature, and provide a 
new constitution for the human mind. Otherwise, your 
supreme government cannot harmonize with Its executory 
system. There are cases in which we cannot take up 



198 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

with names and abstractions. You may call half-a-dozen 
leading- individuals, whom we have reason to fear and 
hate, the nation. It makes no other difference, than to 

make us fear and hate them the more. If it had been 

thought justifiable and expedient to make such a revolu- 
tion by such means, and through such persons, as you 
have made yours, it would have been more wise to have 
completed the business of the fifth and sixth of October. 
The new executive officer would then owe his situation to 
those who are his creators as well as his masters ; and he 
might be bound in interest, in the society of crime, and (if 
in crimes there could be virtues) In gratitude, to serve 
those who had promoted him to a place of great lucre and 
great sensual indulgence ; and of something more : for 
more he must have received from those who certainly 
would not have limited an aggrandized creature, as they 
have done a submitting antagonist. 

A king circumstanced as the present, if he is totally 
stupified by his misfortunes, so as to think it not the 
necessity, but the premium and privilege, of life, to eat and 
sleep, without any regard to glory, can never be fit for the 
office. If he feels as men commonly feel, he must be 
sensible, that an office so circumstanced is one in which 
he can obtain no fame or reputation. He has no generous 
interest that can excite Mm to action. At best, his con- 
duct will be passive and defensive. To inferior people 
such an office might be matter of honour. But to be 
raised to it, and to descend to it, are different things, 
and suggest different sentiments. Does he really name 
the ministers? They will have a sympathy with him. 
Are they forced upon him? The whole business between 
them and the nominal king will be mutual counteraction. 
In all other countries, the office of ministers of state is of 
the highest dignity. In France it is full of peril, and in- 
capable of glory. Rivals, however, they will have in their 
nothingness, whilst shallow ambition exists in the world, 
or the desire of a miserable salary is an incentive to short- 
sighted avarice. Those competitors of the ministers are 
enabled by your constitution to attack them in their vital 
parts, whilst they have not the means of repelling their 
charges in any other than the degrading character of 
culprits. The ministers of state in France are the only 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 199 

persons In that country who are Incapable of a share in the 
national councils. What ministers ! What councils ! 
What a nation I But they are responsible. It is a poor 
service that is to be had from responsibility. The eleva- 
tion of mind to be derived from fear will never make a 
nation glorious. Responsibility prevents crimes. It 
makes all attempts against the laws dangerous. But for a 
principle of active and zealous service, none but idiots 
could think of it Is the conduct of a war to be trusted 
to a man who may abhor its principle; who, in every step 
he may take to render it successful, confirms the power 
of those by whom he is oppressed? Will foreign states 
seriously treat with him who has no prerogative of peace 
or war; no, not so much as in a single vote by himself 
or his ministers, or by any one whom he can possibly 
influence ? A state of contempt is not a state for a prince : 
better get rid of him at once. 

I know it will be said that these humours in the court 
and executive government will continue only through this 
generation ; and that the king has been brought to declare 
the dauphin shall be educated in a conformity to his situa- 
tion. If he is made to conform to his situation, he will 
have no education at all. His training must be worse even 
than that of an arbitrary monarch. If he reads whether 
he reads or not, some good or evil genius will tell him his 
ancestors were kings. Thenceforward his object must be 
to assert himself, and to avenge his parents. This yew 
will say is not his duty. That may be; but it is nature; 
and whilst you pique nature against you, you do unwisely 
to trust to duty. In this futile scheme of polity, the state 
nurses in its bosom, for the present, a source of weakness, 
perplexity, counteraction, inefficiency, and decay; and it 
prepares the means of its final ruin. In short, I see 
nothing in the executive force (I cannot call it authority) 
that has even an appearance of vigour, or that has the 
smallest degree of just correspondence or symmetry, or 
amicable relation with the supreme power, either as it 
now exists, or as it is planned for the future government. 

You have settled, by an economy as perverted as the 
policy, two l establishments of government ; one real, one 

1 In reality three, to reckon the provincial republican establish- 
ments. 



200 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

fictitious. Both maintained at a vast expense; but the 
fictitious at, I think, the greatest. Such a machine as the 
latter is not worth the grease of its wheels. The expense 
Is exorbitant; and neither the show nor the use deserve 
the tenth part of the charge. Oh ! but I don't do justice 
to the talents of the legislators: I don't allow, as I ought 
to do, for necessity. Their scheme of executive force was 
not their choice. This pageant must be kept. The people 
would not consent to part with it. Right; I understand 
you. You do, in spite of your grand theories, to which 
you would have heaven and earth to bend, you do know 
how to conform yourselves to the nature and circumstances 
of things. But when you were obliged to conform thus 
far to circumstances, you ought to have carried your sub- 
mission farther, and to have made, what you were obliged 
to take, a proper instrument, and useful to its end. That 
was in your power. For instance, among many others, it 
was in your power to leave to your king the right of peace 
and war. What I to leave to the executive magistrate the 
most dangerous of all prerogatives? I know none more 
dangerous; nor any one more necessary to be so trusted. 
I do not say that this prerogative ought to be trusted to 
your king, unless he enjoyed other auxiliary trusts along 
with it, which he does not now hold. But, if he did 
possess them, hazardous as they are undoubtedly, advan- 
tages would arise from such a constitution, more than 
compensating the risk. There is no other way of keeping 
the several potentates of Europe from intriguing distinctly 
and personally with the members of your Assembly, from 
intermeddling in all your concerns, and fomenting, in the 
heart of your country, the most pernicious of all factions ; 
factions in the interest and under the direction of foreign 
powers. From that worst of evils, thank God, we are still 
free. Your skill, if you had any, would be well employed 
to find out indirect corrections and controls upon this 
perilous trust. If you did not like those which in Eng- 
land we have chosen, your leaders might have exerted their 
abilities in contriving better. If it were necessary to 
exemplify the consequences of such an executive govern- 
ment as yours, in the management of great affairs, I 
should refer you to the late reports of M. de Montmorin 
to the National Assembly, and all the other proceedings 
relative to the differences between Great Britain and Spain. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 201 

It would be treating- your understanding with disrespect 
to point them out to you. 

I hear that the persons who are called ministers have 
signified an intention of resigning their places. I am 
rather astonished that they have not resigned long since. 
For the universe I would not have stood in the situation in 
which they have been for this last twelvemonth. They 
wished well, I take it for granted, to the Revolution. Let 
this fact be as it may, they could not, placed as they were 
upon an eminence, though an eminence of humiliation, but 
be the first to see collectively, and to feel each in his own 
department, the evils which have been produced by that 
Revolution. In every step which they took, or forbore to 
take, they must have felt the degraded situation of their 
country, and their utter incapacity of serving It. They 
are in a species of subordinate servitude, in which no men 
before them were ever seen. Without confidence from 
their sovereign, on whom they were forced, or from the 
Assembly who forced them upon him, all the noble func- 
tions of their office are executed by committees of the 
Assembly, without any regard whatsoever to their personal 
or their official authority. They are to execute, without 
power ; they are to be responsible, without discretion ; they 
are to deliberate, without choice. In their puzzled situa- 
tion, under two sovereigns, over neither of whom they 
have any influence, they must act in such a manner as (in 
effect, whatever they may intend) sometimes to betray the 
one, sometimes the other, and always to betray them- 
selves. Such has been their situation; such must be the 
situation of those who succeed them. I have much 
respect, and many good wishes, for M. Necker. I am 
obliged to him for attentions. I thought when his enemies 
had driven him from Versailles, that his exile was a sub- 
ject of most serious congratulation sed multcB wrfces et 
publica void vicerunt. He is now sitting on the ruins 
of the finances, and of the monarchy of France. 

A great deal more might be observed on the strange 
constitution of the executory part of the new government ; 
but fatigue must give bounds to the discussion of sub- 
jects, which in themselves have hardly any limits. 

As little genius and talent am I able to perceive in the 
plan of judicature formed by the National Assembly. 



202 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

According to their invariable course, the framers of your 
constitution have begun with the utter abolition of the 
parliaments. These venerable bodies, like the rest of the 
old government, stood in need of reform, even though 
there should be no change made in the monarchy. They 
required several more alterations to adapt them to the 
system of a free constitution. But they had particulars 
in their constitution, and those not a few which deserved 
approbation from the wise. They possessed one funda- 
mental excellence; they were independent. The most 
doubtful circumstance attendant on their office, that of 
its being vendible, contributed, however, to this independ- 
ency of character. They held for life. Indeed they may 
be said to have held by inheritance. Appointed by the 
monarch, they were considered as nearly out of his power. 
The most determined exertions of that authority against 
them only showed their radical independence. They com- 
posed permanent bodies politic, constituted to resist 
arbitrary innovation; and from that corporate constitu- 
tion, and from most of their forms, they were well cal- 
culated to afford both certainty and stability to the laws. 
They had been a safe asylum to secure these laws, in all 
the revolutions of humour and opinion. They had saved 
that sacred deposit of the country during the reigns of 
arbitrary princes, and the struggles of arbitrary factions. 
They kept alive the memory and record of the constitu- 
tion. They were the great security to private property; 
which might be said (when personal liberty had no exist- 
ence) to be, in fact, as well guarded in France as in any 
other country. Whatever is supreme in a state, ought to 
have, as much as possible, its judicial authority so con- 
stituted as not only not to depend upon it, but in some 
sort to balance it. It ought to give a security to its justice 
against its power. It ought to make its judicature, as it 
were, something exterior to the state. 

These parliaments had furnished, not the best certainly, 
but some considerable corrective to the excesses and vices 
of the monarchy. Such an independent judicature was ten 
times more necessary when a democracy became the abso- 
lute power of the country. In that constitution, elective, 
temporary, local judges, such as you have contrived, 
exercising their dependent functions in a narrow society, 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 203 

must be the worst of all tribunals. In them it will be 
vain to look for any appearance of justice towards 
strangers, towards the obnoxious rich, towards the 
minority of routed parties, towards all those who in the 
election have supported unsuccessful candidates. It will 
be impossible to keep the new tribunals clear of the worst 
spirit of faction. All contrivances by ballot we know 
experimentally to be vain and childish to prevent a dis- 
covery of inclinations. Where they may the best answer 
the purposes of concealment, they answer to produce 
suspicion, and this is a still more mischievous cause of 
partiality. 

If the parliaments had been preserved, instead of being 
dissolved at so ruinous a change to the nation, they might 
have served in this new commonwealth, perhaps not pre- 
cisely the same (I do not mean an exact parallel), but 
nearly the same, purposes as the court and senate of 
Areopagus did in Athens ; that is, as one of the balances 
and correctives to the evils of a light and unjust demo- 
cracy. Every one knows that this tribunal was the great 
stay of that state ; every one knows with what care it was 
upheld, and with what a religious awe it was consecrated. 
The parliaments were not wholly free from faction, I 
admit ; but this evil was exterior and accidental, and not so 
much the vice of their constitution itself, as it must be in 
your new contrivance of sexennial elective judicatories. 
Several English commend the abolition of the old tribunals, 
as supposing that they determined everything by bribery 
and corruption. But they have stood the test of monarchic 
and republican scrutiny. The court was well disposed to 
prove corruption on those bodies when they were dissolved 
in 1771. Those who have again dissolved them would 
have done the same if they could, but both inquisitions 
having failed, I conclude, that gross pecuniary corruption 
must have been rather rare amongst them. 

It would have been prudent, along with the parliaments, 
to preserve their ancient power of registering, and of 
remonstrating at least, upon all the decrees of the National 
Assembly, as they did upon those which passed in the time 
of the monarchy. It would be a means of squaring the 
occasional decrees of a democracy to some principles of 
general jurisprudence. The vice of the ancient demo- 



204 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

cracies, and one cause of their ruin, was, that they ruled, 

as you do, by occasional decrees, psephismata. This prac- 
tice soon broke in upon the tenor and consistency of the 
laws; it abated the respect of the people towards them; 
and totally destroyed them in the end. 

Your vesting" the power of remonstrance, which, in the 
time of the monarchy, existed in the parliament of Paris, 
in your principal executive officer, whom, in spite of com- 
mon sense, you persevere in calling- king", is the height of 
absurdity. You ought never to suffer remonstrance from 
him who is to execute. This is to understand neither 
council nor execution; neither authority nor obedience. 
The person whom you call king, ought not to have this 
power, or he ought to have more. 

Ycrar present arrangement is strictly judicial. Instead 
of imitating your monarchy, and seating your judges on 
a bench of independence, your object is to reduce them 
to the most blind obedience. As you have changed all 
thing's, you have invented new principles of order. You 
first appoint judges, who, I suppose, are to determine 
according to law, and then you let them know, that, at 
some time or other, you intend to give them some law by 
which they are to determine. Any studies which they have 
made (if any they have made) are to be useless to them. 
But to supply these studies, they are to be sworn to obey 
all the rules, orders, and instructions which from time to 
time they are to receive from the National Assembly. 
These if they submit to, they leave no ground of law to 
the subject. They become complete and most dangerous 
instruments in the hands of the governing power, which, 
in the midst of a cause, or on the prospect of it, may 
wholly change the rule of decision. If these orders of the 
National Assembly come to be contrary to the will of the 
people, who locally choose those judges, such confusion 
must happen as is terrible to think of. For the judges 
owe their places to the local authority ; and the commands 
they are sworn to obey come from those who have no share 
in their appointment. In the meantime they have the 
example of the court of Chatelet to encourage and guide 
them in the exercise of their functions. That court "is to 
try criminals sent to it by the National Assembly, or 
brought before it by other courses of delation. They sit 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 205 

under a guard to save their own lives. They know not 
by what law they judge, nor under what authority they 
act, nor by what tenure they hold. It Is thought that 
they are sometimes obliged to condemn at peril of their 
lives. This is not perhaps certain, nor can It be ascer- 
tained ; but when they acquit, we know they have seen the 
persons whom they discharge, with perfect impunity to 
the actors, hanged at the door of their court. 

The Assembly indeed promises that they will form a 
body of law, which shall be short, simple, clear, and so 
forth. That is, by their short laws, they will leave much 
to the discretion of the judge; whilst they have exploded 
the authority of all the learning which could make judicial 
discretion (a thing perilous at best) deserving the appella- 
tion of a sound discretion. 

It is curious to observe, that the administrative bodies 
are carefully exempted from the jurisdiction of these new 
tribunals. That is, those persons are exempted from the 
power of the laws, who ought to be the most entirely 
submitted to them. Those who execute public pecuniary 
trusts, ought of all men to be the most strictly held to 
their duty. One would have thought that it must have 
been among your earliest cares, if you did not mean that 
those administrative bodies should be real, sovereign, 
independent states, to form an awful tribunal, like your 
late parliaments, or like our king's bench, where all cor- 
porate officers might obtain protection in the legal exercise 
of their functions, and would find coercion if they tres- 
passed against their legal duty. But the cause of the 
exemption is plain. These administrative bodies are the 
great instruments of the present leaders in their progress 
through democracy to oligarchy. They must therefore be 
put above the law. It will be said, that the legal tribunals 
which you have made are unfit to coerce them. They are 
undoubtedly. They are unfit for any rational purpose. It 
will be said too, that the administrative bodies will be 
accountable to the general assembly. This I fear is talk- 
ing without much consideration of the nature of that 
assembly, or of these corporations. However, to be sub- 
ject to the pleasure of that assembly, is not to be subject 
to law either for protection or for constraint. 

This establishment of judges as yet wants something to 



206 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

its completion. It Is to be crowned by a new tribunal. 
This is to be a grand state judicature; and it is to judge 

of crimes committed against the nation, that is, against 
the power of the Assembly. It seems as if they had some- 
thing in their view of the nature of the high court of 
justice erected in England during the time of the great 
usurpation. As they have not yet finished this part of the 
scheme, it is impossible to form a right judgment upon it. 
However, if great care is not taken to form it in a spirit 
very different from that which has guided them in their 
proceedings relative to state offences, this tribunal, sub- 
servient to their inquisition, the committee of research, 
will extinguish the last sparks of liberty in France, and 
settle the most dreadful and arbitrary tyranny ever known 
in any nation. If they wish to give to this tribunal any 
appearance of liberty and justice, they must not evoke 
from or send to it the causes relative to their own members, 
at their pleasure. They must also remove the seat of that 
tribunal out of the republic of Paris. 1 

Has more wisdom been displayed in the constitution of 
your army than what is discoverable in your plan of judica- 
ture? The able arrangement of this part is the more diffi- 
cult, and requires the greater skill and attention, not only 
as a great concern in itself, but as it is the third cementing 
principle in the new body of republics, which you call the 
French nation. Truly it is not easy to divine what that 
army may become at last. You have voted a very large 
one, and on good appointments, at least fully equal to 
your apparent means of payment. But what is the 
principle of its discipline? or whom is it to obey? You 
have got the wolf by the ears, and I wish you joy of the 
happy position in which you have chosen to place your- 
selves, and in which you are well circumstanced for a 
free deliberation, relatively to that army, or to anything 
else. 

The minister and secretary of state for the war depart- 
ment is M. de la Tour du Pin. This gentleman, like his 
colleagues in administration, is a most zealous assertor 
of the Revolution, and a sanguine admirer of the new con- 

l For further elucidations upon the subject of all these judicatures, 

and of the committee of research, see M. de Caloiine's work. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 207 

stitution, which originated in that event. His statement 
of facts, relative to the military of France* is important, 
not only from Ms official and persona! authority, but be- 
cause it displays very clearly the actual condition of the 
army in France, and because it throws light on the prin- 
ciples upon which the Assembly proceeds, in the adminis- 
tration of this critical object. It may enable us to form 
some judgment, how far it may be expedient in this 
country to imitate the martial policy of France. 

M. de la Tour du Pin, on the fourth of last June, comes 
to give an account of the state of his department, as It 
exists under the auspices of the National Assembly. No 
man knows it so well; no man can express it better. 
Addressing himself to the National Assembly, he says, 
" His Majesty has this day sent me to apprize you of the 
multiplied disorders of which every day he receives the 
most distressing intelligence. The army (le corps militaire) 
threatens to fall into the most turbulent anarchy. Entire 
regiments have dared to violate at once the respect due to 
the laws, to the king, to the order established by your 
decrees, and to the oaths which they have taken with the 
most awful solemnity. Compelled by my duty to give you 
information of these excesses, my heart bleeds when I 
consider who they are that have committed them. Those, 
against whom it is not in my power to withhold the most 
grievous complaints, are a part of that very soldiery which 
to this day have been so full of honour and loyalty, and 
with whom, for fifty years, I have lived the comrade and 
the friend. 

"What incomprehensible spirit of delirium and delusion 
has all at once led them astray ? Whilst you are indefatig- 
able in establishing uniformity in the empire, and mould- 
ing the whole into one coherent and consistent body ; whilst 
the French are taught by you, at once the respect which 
the laws owe to the rights of man, and that which the 
citizens owe to the laws, the administration of the army 
presents nothing but disturbance and confusion. I see in 
more than one corps the bonds of discipline relaxed or 
broken ; the most unheard-of pretensions avowed directly 
and without any disguise; the ordinances without force; 
the chiefs without authority; the military chest and the 
colours carried off; the authority of the king himself 



208 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

[risum teneatis?} proudly defied; the officers despised, 
degraded, threatened, driven away, and some of them 
prisoners in the midst of their corps, dragging on a pre- 
carious life in the bosom of disgust and humiliation. To 
fill up the measure of all these horrors, the commandants 
of places have had their throats cut, under the eyes, and 
almost in the arms, of their own soldiers. 

"These evils are great; but they are not the worst con- 
sequences which may be produced by such military insur- 
rections. Sooner or later they may menace the nation 
itself. The nature of things requires that the army should 
never act but as an instrument. The moment that, erect- 
ing itself into a deliberative body, it shall act according to 
its own resolutions, the government, be it what it may, will 
immediately degenerate into a military democracy; a 
species of political monster, which has always ended by 
devouring those who have produced it. 

"After all this, who must not be alarmed at the irregular 
consultations, and turbulent committees, formed in some 
regiments by the common soldiers and non-commissioned 
officers, without the knowledge, or even in contempt of the 
authority, of their superiors; although the presence and 
concurrence of those superiors could give no authority to 
such monstrous democratic assemblies [cornices]." 

It is not necessary to add much to this finished picture : 
finished as far as its canvas admits; but as I apprehend, 
not taking in the whole of the nature and complexity of 
the disorders of this military democracy, which, the 
minister at war truly and wisely observes, wherever it 
exists, must be the true constitution of the state, by what- 
ever formal appellation it may pass. For, though he 
informs the Assembly that the more considerable part of 
the army have not cast off their obedience, but are still 
attached to their duty, yet those travellers, who have seen 
the corps whose conduct is the best, rather observe in them 
the absence of mutiny, than the existence of discipline. 

I cannot help pausing here for a moment, to reflect upon 
the expressions of surprise which this minister has let fall, 
relative to the excesses he relates. To him the departure 
of the troops from their ancient principles of loyalty and 
honour seems quite inconceivable. Surely those to whom 
he addresses himself know the causes of it but too well. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 209 

Ihey know the doctrines which they have preached, the 
decrees which they have passed, the practices which they 
have countenanced. The soldiers remember the 6th of 
October. They recollect the French guards. They have 
not forgotten the taking- of the king's castles in Paris 
and Marseilles. That the governors in both places were 
murdered with impunity, is a fact that has not passed out 
of their minds. They do not abandon the principles laid 
down so ostentatiously and laboriously of the equality of 
men. They cannot shut their eyes to the degradation of 
the whole noblesse of France, and the suppression of the 
very idea of a gentleman. The total abolition of titles and 
distinctions is not lost upon them. But M. de la Tour 
du Pin is astonished at their disloyalty, when the doctors 
of the Assembly have taught them at the same time the 
respect due to laws. It is easy to judge which of the 
two sorts of lessons men with arms in their hands are 
likely to learn. As to the authority of the king, we may 
collect from the minister himself (if any argument on that 
head were not quite superfluous) that it is not of more 
consideration with these troops, than it is with everybody 
else. "The king," says he ? "has over and over again 
repeated his orders to put a stop to these excesses : but, 
in so terrible a crisis, your [the Assembly's] concurrence 
is become indispensably necessary to prevent the evils 
which menace the state. You unite to the force of the 
legislative power that of opinion still more important." 
To be sure the army can have no opinion of the power or 
authority of the king. Perhaps the soldier has by this 
time learned, that the Assembly itself does not enjoy a 
much greater degree of liberty than that royal figure. 

It is now to be seen what has been proposed in this 
exigency, one of the greatest that can happen in a state, 
The minister requests the Assembly to array itself in all 
its terrors, and to call forth all its majesty. He desires 
that the grave and severe principles announced by them 
may give vigour to the king's proclamation. After this 
we should have looked for courts civil and martial ; break- 
ing of some corps, decimating of others, and all the 
terrible means which necessity has employed in such cases 
to arrest the progress of the most terrible of all evils ; 
particularly, one might expect, that a serious inquiry 



210 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

would be made into the murder of commandants in the 
view of their soldiers. Not one word of all this, or of 
anything like it. After they had been told that the soldierv 
trampled upon the decrees of the Assembly promulgated 
by the king, the Assembly pass new decrees ; and they 
authorize the king to make new proclamations. After the 
secretary at war had stated that the regiments had paid 
no regard to oaths pret^s avec la plus imposante solemnity 
they propose what? More oaths. They renew decrees 
and proclamations as they experience their insufficiency, 
and they multiply oaths in proportion as they weaken, "in 
the minds of men, the sanctions of religion. I hope that 
handy abridgments of the excellent sermons of Voltaire, 
d'Alernbert, Diderot, and Helvetius, on the Immortality 
of the Soul, on a particular superintending Providence, 
and on a Future State of Rewards and Punishments, are 
sent down to the soldiers along with their civic oaths. 
Of this I have no doubt; as I understand that a certain 
description of reading makes no inconsiderable part of their 
military exercises, and that they are full as well supplied 
with the ammunition of pamphlets as of cartridges. 

To prevent the mischiefs arising from conspiracies, 
irregular consultations , seditious committees, and mon- 
strous democratic assemblies ["comitia, cornices "] of the 
soldiers, and all the disorders arising from idleness, 
luxury, dissipation, and insubordination, I believe the most 
astonishing means have been used that ever occurred to 
men, even in all the inventions of this prolific age. It is 
no less than this : The king has promulgated in circular 
letters to all the regiments his direct authority and 
encouragement, that the several corps should join them- 
selves with the clubs and confederations in the several 
municipalities, and mix with them in their feasts and civic 
entertainments ! This jolly discipline, it seems, is to 
soften the ferocity of their minds; to reconcile them to 
their bottle companions of other descriptions ; and to 
merge particular conspiracies in more general associa- 
tions. 1 That this remedy would be pleasing to the soldiers, 

Commc S3. Majest y a^reconnu, non une systtne d 'associations 



que cfaaque regiment prtt part 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 211 

as they are described by M. de la Tour du Pin, I can 
readily believe ; and that, however mutinous otherwise, 
they will dutifully submit themselves to these royal pro- 
clamations. But I should question whether all this civic 
swearing, clubbing, and feasting-, would dispose them, 
more than at present they are disposed, to an obedience 
to their officers; or teach them better to submit to the 
austere rules of military discipline. It will make them 
admirable citizens after the French mode, but not quite 
so good soldiers after any mode. A doubt might well 
arise } whether the conversations at these good tables 
would fit therrPa great deal the better for the character of 
mere instruments, which this veteran officer and statesman 
justly observes the nature of things always requires an 
army to be. 

Concerning the likelihood of this improvement in disci- 
pline, by the free conversation of the soldiers with 
municipal festive societies, which Is thus officially en- 
couraged by royal authority and sanction, we may judge 
by the state of the municipalities themselves,, furnished to 
us by the war minister in this very speech. He conceives 
good hopes of the success of his endeavours towards 
restoring order for the present from the good disposition 
of certain regiments ; but he finds something cloudy with 
regard to the future. As to preventing the return of 
confusion, " for this, the administration (says he) cannot 
be answerable to you, as long as they see the muncipall- 
ties arrogate to themselves an authority over the troops, 
which your institutions have reserved wholly to the 
monarch. You have fixed the limits of the military 
authority and the municipal authority. You have bounded 
the action, which you have permitted to the latter over 
the former, to the right of requisition ; but never did the 
letter or the spirit of your decrees authorize the commons 
in these municipalities to break the officers, to try them, 
to give orders to the soldiers, to drive them from the posts 
committed to their guard, to stop them in their inarches 
ordered by the king, or, in a word, to enslave the troops to 

ces fetes civiques pour multiplier les rapports et reserrer les liens 
d 'union entre les citoyens et les troupes. Lest I should not be 
credited, I insert the words, authorizing the troops to feast with the 
popular confederacies. 



212 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

the caprice of each of the cities ? or even market towns, 
through which they are to pass." 

Such is the character and disposition of the municipal 
society which is to reclaim the soldiery, to bring them 
back to the true principles of military subordination, and 
to render them machines in the hands of the supreme 
power of the country ! Such are the distempers of the 
French troops ! Such is their cure ! As the army is, so 
is the navy. The municipalities supersede the orders of 
the Assembly, and the seamen in their turn supersede the 
orders of the municipalities. From my heart I pity the 
condition of a respectable servant of the fHiblic, like this 
war minister, obliged in his old age to pledge the Assembly 
in their civic cups ? and to enter with a hoary head into all 
the fantastic vagaries of these juvenile politicians. Such 
schemes are not like propositions coming from a man of 
fifty years' wear and tear amongst mankind. They seem 
rather such as ought to be expected from those grand 
compounders in politics , who shorten the road to their 
degrees in the state; and have a certain inward fanatical 
assurance and illumination upon all subjects; upon the 
credit of which one of their doctors has thought fit, with 
great applause, and greater success, to caution the 
Assembly not to attend to old men, or to any persons who 
valued themselves upon their experience. I suppose all 
the ministers of state must qualify, and take this test; 
wholly abjuring the errors and heresies of experience and 
observation. Every man has his own relish. But I think 
if I could not attain to the wisdom, I would at least pre- 
serve something of the stiff and peremptory dignity of 
age. These gentlemen deal in regeneration : but at"' any 
price I should hardly yield my rigid fibres to be regenerated 
by them ; nor begin, in my grand climacteric, to squall in 
their new accents, or to stammer, in my second cradle, 
the elemental sounds of their babarous metaphysics. 1 
Si isti mihi largianinr ut repuerascarn, et in eorum cunis 
vctffiam, valde r ecus em I 

The imbecility of any part of the puerile and pedantic 
system, which they call a constitution, cannot be laid open 
without discovering the utter insufficiency and mischief of 

1 This war minister has since quitted the school, and resigned his 
office. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 213 

every other part with which it comes in contact, or that 
bears any the remotest relation to it. You cannot propose 
a remedy for the incompetence of the crown, without dis- 
playing the debility of the Assembly. You cannot 
deliberate on the confusion of the army of the state, with- 
out disclosing- the worse disorders of the armed munici- 
palities. The military lays open the civil, and the civil 
betrays the military, anarchy. ! wish everybody care- 
fully to peruse the eloquent speech (such it is) of Moris, 
de la^Tour du Pin. He attributes the salvation of the 
municipalities to the good behaviour of some of the troops. 
These troops are to preserve the well-disposed part of 
those municipalities, which is confessed to be the weakest, 
from the pillage of the worst disposed, which is the 
strongest. But the municipalities affect a sovereignty, 
and will command those troops which are necessary for 
their protection. Indeed they must command them or 
court ^them. The municipalities, by the necessity of their 
situation, and by the republican powers they have 
obtained, must, with relation to the military, *be the 
masters, or the servants, or the confederates, or each 
successively ; or they must make a jumble of all together, 
according to circumstances. What government is there 
to coerce the army but the municipality, or the munici- 
pality but the army ? To preserve concord where authority 
is extinguished, at the hazard of all consequences,, the 
Assembly attempts to cure the distempers by the dis- 
tempers themselves ; and they hope to preserve themselves 
from a purely military democracy, by giving it a debauched 
interest in the municipal. 

If _ the soldiers once come to mix for any time in the 
municipal clubs, cabals, and confederacies, an elective 
attraction will draw them to the lowest and most desperate 
part. With them will be their habits, affections, and 
sympathies. The military conspiracies, which are to be 
remedied by civic confederacies ; the rebellious municipali- 
ties, which are to be rendered obedient by furnishing them 
with the means of seducing the very armies of the state 
that are to keep them in order; all these chimeras of a 
monstrous and portentous policy must aggravate the con- 
fusions from which they have arisen. There must be blood, 
The want of common Judgment manifested in the construo 



214 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

tion of all their descriptions of forces, and in all their kinds 
of civil and judicial authorities, will make it flow. Dis- 
orders may be quieted in one time and in one part. They 
will break out In others ; because the evil is radical and 
Intrinsic. All these schemes of mixing 1 mutinous soldiers 
with seditious citizens must weaken still more and more 
the military connexion of soldiers with their officers, as 
well as add military and mutinous audacity to turbulent 
artificers and peasants. To secure a real array, the officer 
should be first and last In the eye of the soldier; first and 
last In his attention, observance, and esteem. Officers It 
seems there are to be, whose chief qualification must be 
temper and patience. They are to manage their troops 
by electioneering arts. They must bear themselves as 
candidates, not as commanders. But as by such means 
power may be occasionally In their hands, the authority 
by which they are to be nominated becomes of high 
importance. 

What you may do finally does not appear; nor Is it of 
much moment, whilst the strange and contradictory rela- 
tion between your army and all the parts of your republic, 
as well as the puzzled relation of those parts to each other 
and to the whole, remain as they are. You seem to have 
ii T en the provisional nomination of the officers, in the 
first Instance, to the king, with a reserve of approbation 
by the National Assembly. Men who have an interest 
to pursue are extremely sagacious in discovering- the true 
seat of power. They must soon perceive that those, who 
can negative Indefinitely, in reality appoint. The officers 
must therefore look to their Intrigues In that Assembly, 
as the sole, certain road to promotion. Still, howeveV, 
by your new constitution they must beg-in their solicitation 
at court. This double negotiation for military rank seems 
to me a contrivance as well adapted, as if it were studied 
for no other end, to promote faction in the Assembly 
itself, relative to this vast military patronage; and then 
to poison the corps of officers with factions of a nature 
still more dang-erous to the safety of government, upon any 
bottom on which it can be placed, and destructive in the 
end to the efficiency of the army Itself. Those officers, 
v*ho lose the promotions Intended for them by the crown, 
must beeuuie uf a faction opposite to that of the Assembly 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 215 

which has rejected their claims, and must nourish dis- 
contents In the heart of the army against the ruling 
powers. Those officers, on the other hand, who, by 
carrying 1 their point through an Interest In the Assembly, 
feel themselves to be at best only second in the good-will 
of the crown, though first in that of the Assembly, must 
slight an authority which would not advance and could 
not retard their promotion. If to avoid these evils you 
will have no other rule for command or promotion than 
seniority, you will have an army of formality ; at the same 
time it will become more independent, and more of a 
military republic. Not they, but the king is the machine. 
A king is not to be deposed by halves. If he is not every- 
thing in the command of an army, he is nothing. What 
Is the effect of a power placed nominally at the head of 
the army, who to that army is no object of gratitude, or 
of fear? Such a cipher is not fit for the administration 
of an object, of all things the most delicate, the supreme 
command of military men. They must be constrained 
(and their inclinations lead them to what their necessities 
require) by a real, vigorous, effective, decided, personal 
authority. The authority of the Assembly itself suffers by 
passing through such a debilitating channel as they have 
chosen. The army will not long look to an assembly 
acting through the organ of false show, and palpable 
imposition. They will not seriously yield obedience to 
a prisoner. They will either despise a pageant, or they 
will pity a captive king. This relation of your army to the 
crown will, if I am not greatly mistaken, become a serious 
dilemma in your politics. 

It is besides to be considered, whether an assembly like 
yours, even supposing that it was in possession of another 
sort of organ through which its orders were to pass, is fit 
for promoting the obedience and discipline of an army. It 
is known, that armies have hitherto yielded a very pre- 
carious and uncertain obedience to any senate, or popular 
authority ; and they will least of all yield it to an assembly 
which is only to have a continuance of two years. The 
officers must totally lose the characteristic disposition of 
military men, if they see with perfect submission and due 
admiration, the dominion of pleaders ; especially when they 
find that they have a new court to pay to an endless sue- 



216 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

cession of those pleaders; whose military policy, and the 
genius of whose command (if they should have any), must 
be as uncertain as their duration Is transient. In the 
weakness of one kind of authority, and in the fluctuation 
of all, the officers of an army will remain for some time 
mutinous and full of faction, until some popular general, 
who understands the art of conciliating the soldiery, and 
who possesses the true spirit of command, shall draw the 
eyes of all men upon himself. Armies will obey him on 
his personal account. There is no other way of securing 
military obedience in this state of things. But the moment 
in which that event shall happen, the person who really 
commands the army is your master; the master (that is 
little) of your king, the master of your assembly, the 
master of your whole republic. 

How came the Assembly by their present power over the 
army? Chiefly, to be sure, by debauching the soldiers 
from their officers. They have begun by a most terrible 
operation. They have touched the central point, about 
which the particles that compose armies are at repose. 
They have destroyed the principle of obedience in the 
great, essential, critical link between the officer and the 
soldier, just where the chain of military subordination com- 
mences and on which the whole of that system depends. 
The soldier is told he is a citizen, and has the rights of 
man and citizen. The right of a man, he is told, is to be 
his own governor, and to be ruled only by those to whom 
he delegates that self-government. It is very natural he 
should think that he ought most of all to have his choice 
where he is to yield the greatest degree of obedience. He 
will therefore, in all probability, systematically do, what 
he does at present occasionally; that is, he will exercise 
at least a negative in the choice of his officers. At present 
the officers are known at best to be only permissive, and 
on their good behaviour. In fact, there have been many 
instances in which they have been cashiered by their corps. 
Here is a second negative on the choice of the king; a 
negative as effectual at least as the other of the Assembly. 
The soldiers know already that it has been a question, not 
ill received in the National Assembly, whether they ought 
not to have the direct choice of their officers, or some pro- 
portion of them? When such matters are in deliberation 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 317 

it is no extravagant supposition that they will incline to 
the opinion most favourable to their pretensions. They 
will not bear to be deemed the army of an imprisoned 
king, whilst another army in the same country, with whom 
too they are to feast and confederate, is to be considered as 
the free army of a free constitution. They will cast their 
eyes on the other and more permanent army; I mean the 
municipal. That corps, they well know, does actually 
elect its own officers. They may not be able to discern the 
ground of distinction on which they are not to elect a 
Marquis de la Fayette (or what is his new name?) of their 
own. If this election of a commander-in-chief be a part 
of the rights of men, why not of theirs? They see elective 
justices of peace, elective judges, elective curates, elective 
bishops, elective municipalities, and elective commanders 
of the Parisian army. Why should they alone be 
excluded ? Are the brave troops of France the only men in 
that nation who are not the fit judges of military merit, 
and of the qualifications necessary for a commander-in- 
chief? Are they paid by the state, and do they therefore 
lose the rights of men? They are a part of that nation 
themselves, and contribute to that pay. And is not the 
king, is not the National Assembly, and are not all who 
elect the National Assembly, likewise paid? Instead of 
seeing all these forfeit their rights by their receiving a 
salary, they perceive that in all these cases a salary is 
given for the exercise of those rights. All your resolu- 
tions, all your proceedings, all your debates, all the works 
of your doctors in religion and politics, have industriously 
been put into their hands ; and you expect that they will 
apply to their own case just as much of your doctrines and 
examples as suits your pleasure. 

Everything depends upon the army in such a government 
as yours ; for you have industriously destroyed all the 
opinions, and prejudices, and, as far as in you lay, all the 
instincts which support government. Therefore the 
moment any difference arises between your National 
Assembly and any part of the nation, you must have 
recourse to force. Nothing else is left to you ; or rather 
you have left nothing else to yourselves. You see, by the 
report of your war minister, that the distribution of the 
armv is in a great measure made with a view of internal 
* H4 6o 



218 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

coercion. 1 You must rule by an army ; and you have In- 
fused into that army by which you rule, as well as into 
the whole body of the nation, principles which after a time 
must disable you in the use you resolve to make of it. 
The king is to call out troops to act against his people, 
when the world has been told, and the assertion is still 
ringing in our ears, that troops ouglit not to fire on 
citizens. The colonies assert to themselves an inde- 
pendent constitution and a free trade. They must be con- 
strained by troops. In what chapter of your code of the 
rights of men are they able to read, that it is a part of the 
rights of men to have their commerce monopolized and 
restrained for the benefit of others? As the colonists rise 
an you, the negroes rise on them. Troops again 
Massacre^ torture, hanging ! These are your rights of 
men I These are the fruits of metaphysic declarations 
wantonly made, and shamefully retracted ! It was but 
the other day, that the farmers of land in one of your 
provinces refused to pay some sort of rents to the lord of 
the soil. In consequence of this, you decree, that the 
country people shall pay all rents and dues, except those 
which as grievances you have abolished; and if they refuse, 
then you order the king to march troops against them. 
You lay down metaphysic propositions which infer 
universal consequences, and then you attempt to limit 
logic by despotism. The leaders of the present system tell 
them of their rights, as men, to take fortresses, to murder 
guards, to seize on kings without the least appearance of 
authority even from the Assembly, whilst, as the sovereign 
legislative body, that Assembly was sitting- in the name 
of the nation and yet these leaders presume to order out 
the troops which have acted in these very disorders, to 
coerce those who shall judge on the principles, and follow 
the examples, which have been guaranteed by their own 
approbation. 

The leaders teach the people to abhor and reject all 
feodality as the barbarism of tyranny, and they tell them 
afterwards how much of that barbarous tyranny they are 
to bear with patience. As they are prodigal of light with 
regard to grievances, so the people find them sparing in 
^ l Courier Francois, soth July, 1790. Assemble Nationale, 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 219 

the extreme with regard to redress. They know that not 
only certain quit-rents and personal duties," which you have 
permitted them to redeem (but have furnished no money 
for the redemption), are as nothing to those burthens for 
which you have made no provision at all. They know, 
that^ almost the whole system of landed property in its 
origin is feudal ; that it is the distribution of the posses- 
sions of the original proprietors, made by a barbarous 
conqueror to his barbarous instruments ; and that the most 
grievous effects of the conquest are the land rents of every 
kind, as without question they are. 

The peasants, in all probability, are the descendants of 
these ancient proprietors, Romans or Gauls. But if they 
fail, in any degree, in the titles which they make on the 
principles of antiquaries and lawyers, they retreat into the 
citadel of the rights of men. There they find that men are 
equal; and the earth, the kind and equal mother of all, 
ought not to be monopolized to foster the pride and luxury 
of any men, who by nature are no better than themselves", 
and who, if they do not labour for their bread, are worse. 
They find, that by the laws of nature the occupant and 
subduer of the soil is the true proprietor; that there is no 
prescription against nature; and that the agreements 
(where any there are) which have been made with the land- 
lords, during the time of slavery, are only the effect of 
duresse and force ; and that when the people re-entered 
into the rights of men, those agreements were made as 
void, as everything else which had been settled under the 
prevalence of the old feudal and aristocratic tyranny. 
They will tell you that they see no difference between an 
idler with a hat and a national cockade, and an idler in a 
cowl, or in a rochet. If you ground the title to rents on 
succession and prescription, they tell you from the speech 
of M. Camus, published by the National Assembly for their 
information, that things ill begun cannot avail themselves 
of prescription; that the title of these lords was vicious 
in its origin ; and that force is at least as bad as fraud. 
As to the title by succession, they will tell you, that the 
succession of those who have cultivated the soil is the true 
pedigree of property, and not rotten parchments and silly 
substitutions; that the lords have enjoyed their usurpa- 
tion too long ; and that if they allow to these lay monks 



220 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

any charitable pension, they ought to be thankful to the 
bounty of the true proprietor, who is so generous towards 
a false claimant to his goods. 

When the peasants give you back that coin of sophistic 
reason, on which you have set your image and superscrip- 
tion, you cry it down as base money, and tell them you will 
pay for the future with French guards, and dragoons, and 
hussars. You hold up, to chastise them, the second-hand 
authority of a king, who is only the instrument of destroy- 
ing, without any power of protecting either the people or 
his own person. Through him it seems you will make 
yourselves obeyed. They answer, You have taught us 
that there are no gentlemen ; and which of your principles 
teach us to bow to kings wham we have not elected ? We 
know, without your teaching, that lands were given for 
the support of feudal dignities, feudal titles, and feudal 
offices. When you took down the cause as a grievance, 
why should the more grievous effect remain? As there 
are now no hereditary honours, and no distinguished 
families, why are we taxed to maintain what you tell us 
ought not to exist? You have sent down our old aristo- 
cratic landlords in no other character, and with no other 
title, but that of exactors under your authority. Have you 
endeavoured to make these your rent-gatherers respectable 
to us? No. You have sent them to us with their arms 
reversed, their shields broken, their impresses defaced ; 
and so displumed, degraded, and metamorphosed, such 
unf eathered two-legged things, that we no longer know 
them. They are strangers to us. They do not even go 
by the names of our ancient lords. Physically they may 
be the same men; though we are not quite sure of that, 
on your new philosophic doctrines of personal identity. 
In all other respects they are totally changed. We do not 
see why we have not as good a right to refuse them their 
rents, as you have to abrogate all their honours, titles, 
and distinctions. This we have never commissioned you 
to do ; and it is one instance, among many indeed, of your 
assumption of undelegated power. We see the burghers 
of Paris, through their clubs, their mobs, and their national 
guards, directing you at their pleasure, and giving that as 
law to you, which, under your authority, is transmitted 
as law to us. Through you, these burghers dispose of the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 221 

lives and fortunes of us all. Why should not you attend 
as much to the desires of the laborious husbandman with 
regard to our rent, by which we are affected in the most 
serious manner, as you do to the demands of these insolent 
burghers, relative to distinctions and titles of honour, by 
which neither they nor we are affected at all? But we find 
you pay more regard to their fancies than to our necessi- 
ties. Is it among the rights of man to pay tribute to his 
equals? Before this measure of yours, we might have 
thought we were not perfectly equal. We might have 
entertained some old, habitual, unmeaning prepossession 
in favour of those landlords ; but we cannot conceive with 
what other view than that of destroying all respect to them, 
you could have made the law that degrades them. You 
have forbidden us to treat them with any of the old 
formalities of respect, and now you send troops to sabre 
and to bayonet us, into a submission to fear and force, 
which you did not suffer us to yield to the mild authority 
of opinion. 

The ground of some of these arguments is horrid and 
ridiculous to all rational ears; but to the politicians of 
metaphysics who have opened schools for sophistry, and 
made establishments for anarchy, it is solid and con- 
clusive. It is obvious, that on a mere consideration of 
the right, the leaders in the Assembly would not in the 
least have scrupled to abrogate the rents along with the 
titles and family ensigns. It would be only to follow up 
the principle of their reasonings, and to complete the 
analogy of their conduct. But they had newly possessed 
themselves of a great body of landed property by confisca- 
tion. They had this commodity at market; and the 
market would have been wholly destroyed, if they were 
to permit the husbandmen to riot in the speculations with 
which they so freely intoxicated themselves. The only 
security which property enjoys in any one of its descrip- 
tions, is from the interests of their rapacity with regard 
to some other. They have left nothing but their own 
arbitrary pleasure to determine what property is to be pro- 
tected and what subverted. 

Neither have they left any principle by which any of 
their municipalities can be bound to obedience ; or even 
conscientiously obliged not to separate from the whole to 



222 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

become independent, or to connect Itself \vith some other 

state. The people of Lyons, it seems, have refused lately 
to pay taxes. Why should they not? What lawful 

authority is there left to exact them? The king- imposed 

some of them. The old states, methodized by orders, 
settled the more ancient. They may say to the Assembly, 
Who are you, that are not our kings 9 nor the states we 
have elected, nor sit on the principles on which we have 
elected you? And who are we, that when we see the 
gabelles^ which you have ordered to be paid, wholly shaken 
off, when we see the act of disobedience afterwards ratified 
by yourselves, who are we, that we are not to judge what 
taxes we ought or ought not to pay, and who are not to 
avail ourselves of the same powers, the validity of which 
you have approved in others? To this the answer is, We 
will send troops. The last reason of kings is always the 
first with your Assembly. This military aid may serve for 
a time, whilst the impression of the increase of pay 
remains and the vanity of being umpires in all disputes 
is flattered. But this weapon will snap short, unfaithful 
to the hand that employs it. The Assembly keep a school, 
where , systematically, and with unremitting perseverance, 
they teach principles, and form regulations, destructive to 
all spirit of subordination, civil and military and then 
they expect that they shall hold in obedience an anarchic 
people by an anarchic army. 

The municipal army which, according to their new 
policy, is to balance this national army, if considered in 
itself only, is of a constitution much more simple, and in 
every respect less exceptionable. It is a mere democratic 
body, unconnected with the crown or the kingdom ; armed, 
and trained, and officered at the pleasure of the districts 
to \vhich the corps severally belong; and the personal 
service of the individuals, who compose it, or the fine in 
lieu of personal service, are directed by the same 
authority.! Nothing is more uniform. If, however, con- 

i I see by M. Necker's account, that the national guards of Paris 
have received, over and above the money levied within their own 
city, about ^145,000 sterling out of the public treasures. Whether 
his be an actual payment for the nine months of their existence, 
or an estimate of their yearly charge, I do not clearly perceive. It 
is of no great importance, as certainly they may take whatever they 
please. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 223 

sidered In any relation to the crown, to the National 
Assembly, to the public tribunals, or to the other army, 
or considered In a view to any coherence or connexion be- 
tween Its parts, it seems a monster, and can hardly fail 
to terminate Its perplexed movements in some great 
national calamity. It Is a worse preservative of a general 
constitution , than the systasls of Crete, or the confedera- 
tion of Poland, or any other ill-devised corrective which 
has yet been Imagined, in the necessities produced by an 
Ill-constructed system of government. 

Having- concluded my few remarks on the constitution 
of the supreme power, the executive, the judicature, the 
military, and on the reciprocal relation of all these estab- 
lishments, I shall say something of the ability showed by 
your legislators with regard to the revenue. 

In their proceedings relative to this object, If possible, 
still fewer traces appear of political judgment or financial 
resource. When the states met, it seemed to be the great 
object to Improve the system of revenue, to enlarge Its 
collection, to cleanse it of oppression and vexation, and 
to establish it on the most solid footing. Great were the 
expectations entertained on that head throughout Europe. 
It was by this grand arrangement that France was to 
stand or fall ; and this became, in my opinion, very 
properly, the test by which the skill and patriotism of those 
who ruled In that Assembly would be tried. The revenue 
of the state Is the state. In effect all depends upon it, 
whether for support or for reformation. The dignity of 
every occupation wholly depends upon the quantity and 
the kind of virtue that may be exerted in It. As all great 
qualities of the mind which operate in public, and are not 
merely suffering and passive, require force for their 
display, I had almost said for their unequivocal existence, 
the revenue, which Is the spring of all power, becomes in 
its administration the sphere of every active virtue. Public 
virtue, being of a nature magnificent and splendid, In- 
stituted for great things, and conversant about great 
concerns, requires abundant scope and room, and cannot 
spread and grow under confinement, and In circumstances 
straitened, narrow, and sordid. Through the revenue 
alone the body politic can ict in its true genius and 



224 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

character, and therefore It will display just as much of Its 
collective virtue, and as much of that virtue which may 
characterize those who move It, and are, as It were, Its life 
and guiding- principle, as It Is possessed of a just revenue. 
For from hence not only magnanimity, and liberality, and 
beneficence, and fortitude, and providence, and the tute- 
lary protection of all good arts, derive their food, and the 
growth of their organs, but continence, and self-denial, 
and labour, and vigilance, and frugality, and whatever else 
there is in which the mind shows itself above the appetite, 
are nowhere more in their proper element than in the 
provision and distribution of the public wealth. It Is 
therefore not without reason that the science of speculative 
and practical finance, which must take to Its aid so many 
auxiliary branches of knowledge, stands high in the 
estimation not only of the ordinary sort, but of the wisest 
and best men ; and as this science has grown with the 
progress of its object, the prosperity and Improvement of 
nations has generally Increased with the increase of their 
revenues ; and they will both continue to grow and flourish, 
as long- as the balance between what is left to strengthen 
the efforts of Individuals, and what is collected for the 
common efforts of the state, bear to each other a due 
reciprocal proportion, and are kept in a close correspond- 
ence and communication. And perhaps it may be owing 
to the greatness of revenues, and to the urgency of state 
necessities, that old abuses in the constitution of finances 
are discovered, and their true nature and rational theory 
comes to be more perfectly understood; Insomuch, that a 
smaller revenue might have been more distressing in one 
period than a far greater is found to be in another; the 
proportionate wealth even remaining the same. In this 
state of things, the French Assembly found something in 
their revenues to preserve, to secure, and wisely to 
administer, as well as to abrogate and alter. Though 
their proud assumption might justify the severest tests, yet 
in trying their abilities on their financial proceedings, I 
would only consider what is the plain, obvious duty of a 
common finance minister, and try them upon that, and not 
upon models of ideal perfection. 

The objects of a financier are, then, to secure an ample 
revenue; to impose it with judgment and equally; to 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 225 

employ It economically; and, when necessity obliges Mm 
to make use of credit, to secure Its foundations in that 
instance,, and for ever, by the clearness and candour of 
his proceeding's, the exactness of his calculations, and the 

solidity of his funds. On these heads we may take a short 
and distinct view of the merits and abilities of those In 
the National Assembly, who have taken to themselves the 
management of this arduous concern. Far from any in- 
crease of revenue in their hands, I find, by a report of 
M. Vernier, from the committee of finances, of the second 
of August last, that the amount of the national revenue, 
as compared with its produce before the Revolution, was 
diminished by the sum of two hundred millions, or eight 
millions sterling of the annual Income considerably more 
than one-third of the whole 1 

If this be the result of great ability, never surely was 
ability displayed in a more distinguished manner^ or with 
so powerful an effect. No common folly, no vulgar in- 
capacity, no ordinary official negligence, even no official 
crime, no corruption, no peculation, hardly any direct 
hostility which we have seen in the modern world, could 
In so short a time have made so complete an overthrow of 
the finances, and with them, of the strength of a great 
kingdom. Cedo qui vestram rempublicam tantam amis- 
is Us tarn cito? 

The sophisters and declaimers, as soon as the Assembly 
met, began with decrying the ancient constitution of the 
revenue in many of its most essential branches, such as the 
public monopoly of salt. They charged it, as truly as un- 
wisely, with being Ill-contrived, oppressive, and partial. 
This representation they were not satisfied to make use of 
In speeches preliminary to some plan of reform; they 
declared It in a solemn resolution or public sentence, as it 
were judicially, passed upon it; and this they dispersed 
throughout the nation. At the time they passed the 
decree, with the same gravity they ordered the^ same 
absurd, oppressive, and partial tax to be paid, until they 
could find a revenue to replace It. The consequence was 
inevitable. The provinces which had been always ex- 
empted from this salt monopoly, some of whom were 
charged with other contributions, perhaps equivalent, were 
totally disinclined to bear any part of the burthen, which 



226 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

by an equal distribution was to redeem the others. As to 
the Assembly, occupied as it was with the declaration and 
violation of the rights of men, and with their arrangements 
for general confusion, it had neither leisure nor capacity 

to contrive, nor authority to enforce, any plan of any kind 

relative to the replacing the tax or equalizing it, or com- 
pensating the provinces, or for conducting their minds to 
any scheme of accommodation with the other districts 
which were to be relieved. 

The people of the salt provinces, impatient under taxes, 
damned by the authority which had directed their payment, 
very soon found their patience exhausted. They thought 
themselves as skilful in demolishing as the Assembly could 
be. They relieved themselves by throwing off the whole 
burthen. Animated by this example, each district, or part 
of a district, judging of its own grievance by its own 
feeling, and of its remedy by its own opinion, did as it 
pleased with other taxes. 

We are next to see how they have conducted themselves 
In contriving equal impositions, proportioned to the means 
of the citizens, and the least likely to lean heavy on the 
active capital employed In the generation of that private- 
wealth, from whence the public fortune must be derived. 
By suffering the several districts, and several of the 
individuals in each district, to judge of what part of the 
old revenue they might withhold, instead of better prin- 
ciples of equality, a new inequality was Introduced of the 
most oppressive kind. Payments were regulated by dis- 
positions. The parts of the kingdom which were the most 
submissive, the most orderly, or the most affectionate to 
the commonwealth, bore the whole burthen of the state. 
Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a 
feeble government. To fill up all the deficiencies in the 
old impositions, and the new deficiencies of every kind 
which were to be expected, what remained to a state with- 
out authority ? The National Assembly called for a volun- 
tary benevolence ; for a fourth part of the income of all the 
citizens, to be estimated on the honour of those who were 
to pay. They obtained something more than could be 
rationally calculated, but what was far indeed from 
answerable to their real necessities, and much less to their 
fond expectations. Rational people could have hoped for 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 227 

little from this their tax In the disguise of a benevolence ; 
a tax weak, ineffective, and unequal ; a tax by which 
luxury, avarice, and selfishness were screened, and the 
load thrown upon productive capital, upon integrity, 

generosity, and public spirit a tax of regulation upon 
virtue. At length the mask is thrown off, and they are 
now trying means (with little success) of exacting their 
benevolence by force. 

This benevolence, the rickety offspring of weaknessj 
was to be supported by another resource, the twin brother 
of the same prolific imbecility. The patriotic donations 
were to make good the failure of the patriotic contribu- 
tion. John Doe was to become security for Richard Roe. 
By this scheme they took things of much price from the 
giver, comparatively of small value to the receiver; they 
ruined several trades; they pillaged the crown of its orna- 
ments, the churches of their plate, and the people of their 
personal decorations. The invention of these juvenile pre- 
tenders to liberty was in reality nothing more than a 
servile imitation of one of the poorest resources of doting 
despotism. They took an old huge full-bottomed periwig 
out of the wardrobe of the antiquated frippery of Louis 
the Fourteenth, to cover the premature baldness of the 
National Assembly. They produced this old-fashioned 
formal folly, though it had been so abundantly exposed in 
the Memoirs of the Duke de St. Simon, if to reasonable 
men it had wanted any arguments to display its mischief 
and insufficiency. A device of the same kind was tried 
in my memory by Louis the Fifteenth, but it answered at 
no time. However, the necessities of ruinous wars were 
some excuse for desperate projects. The deliberations of 
calamity are rarely wise. But here was a season for dis- 
position and providence. It was in a time of profound 
peace, then enjoyed for five years, and promising a much 
longer continuance, that they had recourse to this 
desperate trifling. They were sure to lose more reputation 
by sporting, in their serious situation, with these toys and 
playthings of finance, which have filled half their journals, 
than could possibly be compensated by the poor temporary 
supply which they afforded. It seemed as if those who 
adopted such projects were wholly ignorant of their 
circumstances, or wholly unequal to their necessities. 



228 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Whatever virtue may be in these devices, it is obvious 
that neither the patriotic gifts, nor the patriotic contribu- 
tion, can ever be resorted to again. The resources of 
public folly are soon exhausted. The whole indeed of their 
scheme of revenue is to make, by any artifice, an appear- 
ance of a full reservoir for the hour, whilst at the same 
time they cut off the springs and living fountains of peren- 
nial supply. The account not long since furnished by M. 
Necker was meant, without question, to be favourable. 
He gives a flattering view of the means of getting through 
the year; but he expresses, as it is natural he should, 
some apprehension for that which was to succeed. On 
this last prognostic, instead of entering into the grounds 
of this apprehension, in order, by a propter foresight, to 
prevent the prognosticated evil, M. Necker receives a sort 
of friendly reprimand from the president of the Assembly. 
As to their other schemes of taxation, it is impossible 
to say anything of them with certainty; because they 
have not yet had their operation : but nobody is so 
sanguine as to imagine they will fill up any perceptible 
part of the wide gaping breach which their incapacity has 
made in their revenues. At present the state of their 
treasury sinks every day more and more in cash, and 
swells more and more in fictitious representation. When 
so little within or without is now found but paper, the 
representative not of opulence but of want, the creature 
not of credit but of power, they imagine that our flourish- 
ing state in England is owing to that bank-paper, and not 
the bank-paper to the flourishing condition of our com- 
merce, to the solidity of our credit, and to the total exclu- 
sion of all idea of power from any part of the transaction. 
They forget that, in England, not one shilling of paper- 
money of any description is received but of choice; that 
the whole has had its origin in cash actually deposited; 
and that it Is convertible at pleasure, in an instant, and 
without the smallest loss, into cash again. Our paper is 
of value in commerce, because in law it is of none. It is 
powerful on 'Change, because in Westminster Hall it is 
impotent. In payment of a debt of twenty shillings, a 
creditor may refuse all the paper of the bank of England. 
Nor is there amongst us a single public security, of any 
quality or nature whatsoever, that is enforced by authority. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 229 

In fact it might be easily shown, that our paper wealth, 
instead of lessening- the real coin, has a tendency to in- 
crease it; instead of being a substitute for money, it only 
facilitates its entry, its exit, and its circulation ; that it is 
the symbol of prosperity, and not the badge of distress. 
Never was a scarcity of cash, and an exuberance of paper, 
a subject of complaint in this nation. 

Well ! but a lessening of prodigal expenses, and the 
economy which has been introduced by the virtuous and 
sapient Assembly, make amends for the losses sustained 
in the receipt of revenue. In this at least they have ful- 
filled the duty of a financier. Have those, who say so, 
looked at the expenses of the National Assembly itself? 
of the municipalities? of the city of Paris? of the increased 
pay of the two armies? of the new police? of the new 
judicatures? Have they even carefully compared the 
present pension list with the former? These politicians 
have been cruel, not economical. Comparing the expenses of 
the former prodigal government and its relation to the then 
revenues with the expenses of this new system as opposed 
to the state of its new treasury, I believe the present will 
be found beyond all comparison more chargeable. 1 

It remains only to consider the proofs of financial ability, 
furnished by the present French managers when they are 
to raise supplies on credit. Here I am a little at a stand ; 
for credit, properly speaking, they have none. The credit 
of the ancient government was not indeed the best ; but 
they could always, on some terms, command money, not 

l The reader will observe, that I have but lightly touched (my plan 
demanded nothing more) on the condition of the French finances, as 
connected with the demands upon them. If I had intended to do 
otherwise, the materials in my hands for such a task are not alto- 
gether perfect. On this subject I refer the reader to M. de Calonne's 
work ; and the tremendous d'isplay that he has made of the havoc and 
devastation in the public estate, and in all the affairs of France, 
caused by the presumptuous good intentions of ignorance and in- 
capacity. Such effects those causes will always produce. Looking 
over that account with a pretty strict eye, and, ^ith perhaps too 
much rigour, deducting everything which may be placed to the account 
of a financier out of place, who might be supposed by his enemies 
desirous of making the most of his cause, I believe it will be found, 
that a more salutary lesson of caution against the daring spirit of 
innovators, than what has been supplied^ at the expense of France, 
never was at any time furnished to mankind. 



2 3 o REFLECTIONS ON THE 

only at home, but from most of the countries of Europe 
where a surplus capital was accumulated ; and the credit 
of that government was improving; dally. The establish- 
ment of a system of liberty would of course be supposed 
to give It new strength : and so It would actually have 
done, if a system of liberty had been established. What 
offers has their government of pretended liberty had from 
Holland, from Hamburgh, from Switzerland, from Genoa, 
from England, for a dealing in their paper? Why should 
these nations of commerce and economy enter into any 
pecuniary dealings with a people, who attempt to reverse 
the very nature of things ; amongst whom they see the 
debtor prescribing at the point of the bayonet, the medium 
of his solvency to the creditor; discharging one of his 
engagements with another; turning his very penury into 
his resource; and paying his Interest with his rags? 

Their fanatical confidence In the omnipotence of church 
plunder has Induced these philosophers to overlook all care 
of the public estate, just as the dream of the philosopher's 
stone induces dupes, under the more plausible delusion of 
the hermetic art, to neglect all rational means of improving 
their fortunes. With these philosophic financiers, this 
universal medicine made of church mummy Is to cure all 
the evils of the state. These gentlemen perhaps do not 
believe a great deal in the miracles of piety ; but it cannot 
be questioned, that they have an undoubting faith in the 
prodigies of sacrilege. Is there a debt which presses 
them? Issue assignats* Are compensations to be made, 
or a maintenance decreed to those whom they have robbed 
of their freehold In their office, or expelled from their pro- 
fession? Assignats. Is a fleet to be fitted out? Assig- 
nats. If sixteen millions sterling of these assignats, 
forced on the people, leave the wants of the state as urgent 
as ever issue, says one, thirty millions sterling of 
assignats says another, issue fourscore millions more of 
assigiiats. The only difference among their financial fac- 
tions is on the greater or the lesser quantity of assignats 
to be imposed on the public sufferance. They are all pro- 
fessors of assignats. Even those, whose natural good 
sense and knowledge of commerce, not obliterated by 
philosophy, furnish decisive arguments against this delu- 
sion, conclude their arguments, by proposing the emission 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 231 

of as signals. I suppose they must talk of as signals , as 
no other language would be understood. All experience 
of their inefficacy does not in the least discourage them. 
Are the old as signals depreciated at market? What is the 
remedy ? Issue new assignals. Mais si maladia, opinia- 
Iria, non vull se garire, quid, illi facere? assignare poslea 
assignare; ensuila assignare. The word is a trifle altered. 
The Latin of your present doctors may be better than that 
of your old comedy ; their wisdom and the variety of their 
resources are the same. They have not more notes in 
their song than the cuckoo ; though, far from the softness 
of that harbinger of summer and plenty, their voice is as 
harsh and as ominous as that of the raven. 

Who but the most desperate adventurers in philosophy 
and finance could at all have thought of destroying the 
settled revenue of the state, the sole security for the public 
credit, in the hope of rebuilding it with the materials of 
confiscated property? If, however, an excessive zeal for 
the state should have let a pious and venerable prelate (by 
anticipation a father of the church l ) to pillage his own 
order, and, for the good of the church and people, to take 
upon himself the place of grand financier of confiscation, 
and comptroller-general of sacrilege, he and his coad- 
jutors were, in my opinion, bound to show, by their sub- 
sequent conduct, that they knew something of the office 
they assumed. When they had resolved to appropriate to 
the Fisc, a certain portion of the landed property of their 
conquered country, it was their business to render their 
bank a real fund of credit, as far as such a bank was 
capable of becoming so. 

To establish a current circulating credit upon any Land- 
bank, under any circumstances whatsoever, has hitherto 
proved difficult at the very least. The attempt has com- 
monly ended in bankruptcy. But when the Assembly were 
led, through a contempt of moral, to a defiance of econom- 
ical, principles, it might at least have been expected, 
that nothing would be omitted on their part to lessen this 
difficulty, to prevent any aggravation of this bankruptcy. 
It might be expected, that, to render your Land-bank toler- 
able, every means would be adopted that could display 
openness and candour in the statement of the security; 
I La Bruv&re of Bossuet. 



232 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

everything- which could aid the recovery of the demand. 
To take things in their most favourable point of view, 
your condition was that of a man of a large landed estate, 
which he wished to dispose of for the discharge of a debt, 
and the supply of certain services. Not being able in- 
stantly to sell, you wished to mortgage. What would a 
man of fair intentions, and a commonly clear understand- 
ing, do in such circumstances? Ought he not first to 
ascertain the gross value of the estate ; the charges of its 
management and disposition; the encumbrances perpetual 
and temporary of all kinds that affect it; then, striking a 
net surplus, to calculate the just value of the security? 
When that surplus (the only security to the creditor) had 
been clearly ascertained, arid properly vested in the hands 
of trustees; then he would indicate the parcels to be sold, 
and the time and conditions of sale; after this, he would 
admit the public creditor, if he chose it, to subscribe his 
stock into this new fund; or he might receive proposals 
for an assignat from those who would advance money to 
purchase this species of security. 

This would be to proceed like men of business, methodi- 
cally and rationally; and on the only principles of public 
and private credit that have an existence. The dealer 
would then know exactly what he purchased, and the only 
doubt which could hang upon his mind would be, the dread 
of the resumption of the spoil, which one day might be 
made (perhaps with an addition of punishment) from the 
sacrilegious gripe of those execrable wretches who could 
become purchasers at the auction of their innocent fellow- 
citizens. 

An open and exact statement of the clear value of the 
property, and of the time, the circumstances, and the 
place of sale, were all necessary, to efface as much as 
possible the stigma that has hitherto been branded on 
every kind of Land-bank. It became necessary on another 
principle, that is, on account of a pledge of faith previously 
given on that subject, that their future fidelity in a slippery 
concern might be established by their adherence to their 
first engagement. When they had finally determined on 
a state resource from church booty, they came, on the 
I4th of April, 1790, to a solemn resolution' on the subject; 
and pledged themselves to their country, "that in the 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 233 

statement of the public charges for each year, there should 
be brought to account a sum sufficient for defraying the 
expenses of the R. C. A. religion, the support of the 
ministers at the altars, the relief of the poor, the pensions 
to the ecclesiastics, secular as well as regular, of the one 
and of the other sex, in order that the estates and goods 
which are at the disposal of the nation may be disengaged 
of all charges, and employed by the representatives, or 
the legislative body, to the great and most pressing 
exigences of the state." They further engaged, on the 
same day, that the sum necessary for the year 1791 should 
be forthwith determined. 

In this resolution they admit it their duty to show dis- 
tinctly the expense of the above objects, which, by other 
resolutions, they had before engaged should be first in 
the order of provision. They admit that they ought to 
show the estate clear and disengaged of all charges, and 
that they should show it immediately. Have they done 
this immediately, or at any time? Have they ever 
furnished a rent-roll of the immovable estates, or given 
in an inventory of the movable effects, which they con- 
fiscate to their assignats? In what manner they can fulfil 
their engagements of holding out to public service, "an 
estate disengaged of all charges," without authenticating 
the value of the estate, or the quantum of the charges, 
I leave it to their English admirers to explain. Instantly 
upon this assurance, and previously to any one step to- 
wards making it good, they issue, on the credit of so 
handsome a declaration, sixteen millions sterling of their 
paper. This was manly. Who, after this masterly 
stroke, can doubt of their abilities in finance? But then, 
before any other emission of these financial indulgences, 
they took care at least to make good their original 
promise ! If such estimate, either of the value of the 
estate or the amount of the encumbrances, has been made, 
it has escaped me. I never heard of it. 

At length they have spoken out, and they have made a 
full discovery of their abominable fraud, in holding out the 
church lands as a security for any debts, or any service 
whatsoever. They rob only to enable them to cheat; 
but in a very short time they defeat the ends both of the 
robbery and the fraud, by making out accounts for other 



234 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

purposes, which blow up their whole apparatus of force 
and of deception. I am obliged to M. de Calonne for 

his reference to the document which proves this extra- 
ordinary fact; it had by some means escaped me. Indeed 
it was not necessary to make out my assertion as to the 
breach of faith on the declaration of the i4th of April, 
1790. By a report of their committee it now appears, that 
the charge of keeping up the reduced ecclesiastical estab- 
lishments, and other expenses attendant on religion, and 
maintaining the religious of both sexes, retained or 
pensioned, and the other concomitant expenses of the same 
nature, which they have brought -upon themselves by this 
convulsion in property, exceeds the income of the estates 
acquired by It in the enormous sum of two millions sterling 
annually; besides a debt of seven millions and upwards. 
These are the calculating powers of imposture ! This is 
the finance of philosophy I This is the result of all the 
delusions held out to engage a miserable people In rebel- 
lion, murder, and sacrilege, and to make them prompt and 
zealous instruments in the ruin of their country ! Never 
did a state, In any case, enrich itself by the confiscations 
of the citizens. This new experiment has succeeded like 
all the rest. Every honest mind, every true lover of liberty 
and humanity, must rejoice to find that injustice is not 
always good policy, nor rapine the high road to riches. 
I subjoin with pleasure, in a note, the able and spirited 
observations of M- de Calonne on this subject. 1 

i "Ce n'est point a- 1 'assembled entiere que je m'adresse icl ; je ns 
parle qu'& ceux qui Fe'garent, en hri cachant sous des gazes sduisantes 

le but oil Us Fentrainent, C'est a eux que je dis ; votre objet, vous 
n'en disconviendrez pas, c'est d*6ter tout espoir au clerge", et de con- 
sommer sa mine; c'est-la, en ne vous soupconnant d'aucune com- 
blnalson de cupidite", d'aucun regard sur le jeu des effets publics, 
c'est-iA ee qu'on dolt croire que vous avez en vue dans la terrible 
operation qae vous proposez; c*est ce qui doit en tre le fruit. Mais 
le peuple que vous y InteVessez, quei avantage peut-il y trouver? En 
vous servant sans cesse de lui, que faites vous pour lui? Rien, abso- 
lument rien ; et, an contraire, vous faites ce qui ne conduit qu*& 
1'accabler de nouvelles charges. Vous avez re|et6, & son prejudice, 
une off re de 400 millions, dont I'acceptation pouvoit devenir un moyen 
de souiagernent en sa faveur ; et cette ressource, aussi profitable que 
le*gitime, vous avez substitue" une injustice ruineuse, qui, de votre 
propre aveu, charge le tr^sor public, et par consequent le peuple, d*un 
surcroit de de*pense annuelle de 50 millions au moins et d'un' rem- 
de 150 millions. 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 235 

In order to persuade the world of the bottomless 
resource of ecclesiastical confiscation, the Assembly have 
proceeded to other confiscations of estates In offices, which 
could not be done with any common colour without being" 
compensated out of this grand confiscation of landed pro- 
perty. They have thrown upon this fund, which was to 
show a surplus disengaged of all charges, a new charge ; 
namely, the^ compensation to the whole body of the dis- 
banded judicature; and of all suppressed offices and 
estates ; a charge which I cannot ascertain, but which un- 
questionably amounts to many French millions. Another 
of the new charges is an annuity of four hundred and 
eighty thousand pounds sterling, to be paid (if they choose 
to keep faith) by daily payments, for the interest of the 
first assignats. Have they ever given themselves the 
trouble to state fairly the expense of the management of 
the church lands in the hands of the municipalities, to 
whose care, skill, and diligence, and that of their legion 
of unknown underagents, they have chosen to commit 
the charge of the forfeited estates, and the consequence of 
which had been so ably pointed out by the bishop of Nancy? 

But it is unnecessary to dwell on these obvious heads of 
encumbrance. Have they made out any clear state of the 
grand encumbrance of all, I mean the whole of the general 
and municipal establishments of all sorts, and compared It 
with the regular income by revenue? Every deficiency in 
these becomes a charge on the confiscated estate, before 
the creditor can plant his cabbages on an acre of church 
property. There is no other prop than this confiscation to 
keep the whole state from tumbling to the ground. In 
this situation they have purposely covered all, that they 
ought industriously to have cleared, with a thick fog* ; 
and then, blindfold themselves, like bulls that shut their 
eyes when they push, they drive, by the point of the 
bayonets, their slaves, blindfolded indeed no worse than 
their lords, to take their fictions for currencies, and to 
swallow down paper pills by thirty-four millions sterling at 

" Malheureux peuple ! voila ce que vous vaut en dernier re"su!tat 
{'expropriation de 1'Eglise, et la durete* des de"crets taxateurs du traite- 
ment des ministres d'une religion bienfaisante ; et de"sormais ils seront 
h. votre charge: leurs charge's soulageoient les pauvres ; et,vous allez 
tre imposes pour subvenir a le-ur entretien I ** De I'Etat de la 
France, p. 81. See also p. 92, and the following pages. 



236 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

a dose. Then they proudly lay In their claim to a future 

credit, on failure of all their past engagements, and at a. 
time when (if in such a matter anything can be clear) it is 
clear that the surplus estates will never answer even the 
first of their mortgages, I mean that of the four hundred 
millions (or sixteen millions sterling) of assignats. In all 
this procedure I can discern neither the solid sense of plain 
dealing, nor the subtle dexterity of ingenious fraud. The 
objections within the Assembly to pulling up the flood- 
gates for this inundation of fraud are unanswered ; but they 
are thoroughly refuted by a hundred thousand financiers 
in the street. These are the numbers by which the meta- 
physic arithmeticians compute. These are the grand 
calculations on which a philosophical public credit is 
founded in France. They cannot raise supplies ; but they 
can raise mobs. Let them rejoice in the applauses of the 
club at Dundee, for their wisdom and patriotism in having 
thus applied the plunder of the citizens to the service of 
the state. 1 hear of no address upon this subject from 
the directors of the bank of England ; though their appro- 
bation would be of a little more weight in the scale of 
credit than that of the club at Dundee. But, to do justice 
to the club, I believe the gentlemen who compose it to be 
wiser than they appear ; that they will be less liberal of 
their money than of their addresses; and that they would 
not give a dg j s-ear of their most rumpled and ragged 
Scotch paper for twenty of your fairest assignats. 

Early in this year the Assembly issued paper to the 
amount of sixteen millions sterling ; what must have been 
the state into which the Assembly has brought your affairs, 
that the relief afforded by so vast a supply has been hardly 
perceptible? This paper also felt an almost immediate 
depreciation of five per cent, which in a little time came 
to about seven. The effect of these assignats on the 
receipt of the revenue is remarkable. M. Necker found 
that the collectors of the revenue, who received in coin, 
paid the treasury in assignats. The collectors made seven 
per cent, by thus receiving in money, and accounting in 
depreciated paper. It was not very difficult to foresee, 
that this must be inevitable. It was, however, not the 
less embarrassing. M. Necker was obliged (I believe, 
for a considerable part, in the market of London) to buy 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 237 

gold and silver for the mint, which amounted to about 
twelve thousand pounds above the value of the commodity 
gained. That minister was of opinion, that, whatever 
their secret nutritive virtue might be, the state could not 
live upon assignats alone ; that some real silver was neces- 
sary, particularly for the satisfaction of those who, having 
iron in their hands, were not likely to distinguish themselves 
for patience, when they should perceive that, whilst an 
increase of pay was held out to them in real money, it was 
again to be fraudulently drawn back by depreciated paper. 
The minister, in this very natural distress, applied to the 
Assembly, that they should order the collectors to pay in 
specie what in specie they had received. It could not 
escape him, that if the treasury paid three per cent, for the 
use of a currency, which should be returned seven per 
cent, worse than the minister issued it, such a dealing- 
could not very greatly tend to enrich the public. The 
Assembly took no notice of his recommendation. They 
wrere in this dilemma If they continued to receive the 
assignats , cash must become an alien to their treasury : 
if the treasury should refuse those paper amulets, or should 
discountenance them in any degree, they must destroy 
the credit of their sole resource. They seem then to have 
made their option; and to have given some sort of credit 
to their paper by taking it themselves ; at the same time 
in their speeches they made a sort of swaggering declara- 
tion, something, I rather think, above legislative com- 
petence ; that is, that there is no difference in value 
between metallic money and their assignats. This was a 
good, stout, proof article of faith, pronounced under an 
anathema, by the venerable fathers of this philosophic 
synod. Credat who will certainly not ]ud<zus Apella. 

A noble indignation rises in the minds of your popular 
leaders, on hearing the magic lantern in their show of 
finance compared to the fraudulent exhibitions of Mr. 
Law. They cannot bear to hear the sands of his Missis- 
sippi compared with the rock of the church, on which 
they build their system. Pray let them suppress this 
glorious spirit, until they show to the world what piece of 
solid ground there is for their assignats, which they^ have 
not preoccupied by other charges. They do injustice to 
that great, mother fraud, to compare it with their de- 



238 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

generate Imitation. It is not true that Law built solely 
on a speculation concerning" the Mississippi. He added 
the East India trade; he added the African trade; he 
added the farms of all the farmed revenue of France. 
All these together unquestionably could not support the 
structure which the public enthusiasm, not he, chose to 
build upon these bases. But these were, however, in 
comparison, generous delusions. They supposed, and 
they aimed at, an increase of the commerce of France. 
They opened to it the whole range of the two hemispheres, 
They did not think of feeding France from its own sub- 
stance. A grand imagination found in this flight of com- 
merce something to captivate. It was wherewithal to 
dazzle the eye of an eagle. It was not made to entice 
the smell of a mole, nuzzling and burying himself in his 
mother earth, as yours is. Men were not then quite 
shrunk from their natural dimensions by a degrading and 
sordid philosophy, and fitted for low and vulgar decep- 
tions. Above all, remember, that, in imposing on the 
imagination, the then managers of the system made a com- 
pliment to the freedom of men. In their fraud there was 
no mixture of force. This was reserved to our time, to 
quench the little glimmerings of reason which might break 
in upon the solid darkness of this enlightened age. 

On recollection, I have said nothing of a scheme of 
finance which may be urged in favour of the abilities of 
these gentlemen, and which has been introduced with great 
pomp, though not yet finally adopted, in the National 
Assembly. It comes with something solid in aid of the 
credit of the paper circulation; and much has been said 
of its utility and its elegance. I mean the project for 
coining into money the bells of the suppressed churches. 
This is their alchymy. There are some follies which baffle 
argument ; which go beyond ridicule ; and which incite no 
feeling- in us but disgust; and therefore I say no more 
upon it. 

It is as little worth remarking any further upon all their 
drawing and re-drawing, on their circulation for putting off 
the evil day, on the play between the treasury and the 
Caisse d'Escompte, and on all these old, exploded con- 
trivances of mercantile fraud, now exalted into policy of 
state. The revenue will "ot be trifled with. The prattiin- 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 239 

about the rights of men will not be accepted in payment 
for a biscuit or a pound of gunpowder. Here then the 
metaphysicians descend from their airy speculations, and 
faithfully follow examples. What examples? The 
examples of bankrupts. But defeated, baffled, disgraced, 
when their breath, their strength, their inventions, their 
fancies desert them, their confidence still maintains its 
ground. ^In the manifest failure of their abilities, they 
take credit for their benevolence. When the revenue dis- 
appears in their hands, they have the presumption, in some 
of their late proceedings, to value themselves on the relief 
given to the people. They did not relieve the people. If 
they entertained such intentions, why did they order the 
obnoxious taxes to be paid? The people relieved them- 
selves in spite of the Assembly. 

But waiving all discussion on the parties who may claim 
the merit of this fallacious relief, has there been, in effect, 
any relief to the people in any form? Mr. Bailly, one of 
the grand agents of paper circulation, lets you into the 
nature of this relief. His speech to the National Assembly 
contained a high and laboured panegyric on the inhabitants 
of Paris, for the constancy and unbroken resolution with 
which they have borne their distress and misery. A fine 
picture of public felicity 1 What ! great courage and un- 
conquerable firmness of mind to endure benefits, and 
sustain redress? One would think from the speech of this 
learned lord mayor, that the Parisians, for this twelve- 
month past, had been suffering the straits of some dreadful 
blockade; that Henry the Fourth had been stopping up 
the avenues to their supply, and Sully thundering with 
his ordnance at the gates of Paris ; when in reality they 
are besieged by no other enemies than their own madness 
and folly, their own credulity and perverseness. But Mr. 
Bailly will sooner thaw the eternal ice of his Atlantic 
regions, than restore the central heat to Paris, whilst it 
remains " smitten with the cold, dry, petrific mace " of a 
false and unfeeling philosophy. Some time after this 
speech, that is, on the thirteenth of last August, the same 
magistrate, giving an account of his government at the bar 
of the same Assembly, expresses himself as follows: "In 
the month of July, 1789 " [the period of everlasting- corr- 
memoration], "the finances of the city of Paris were yd 



2 4 o REFLECTIONS ON THE 

In good order ; the expenditure was counterbalanced by the 
receipt, and she had at that time a million " [forty thou- 
sand pounds sterling] "In bank. The expenses which she 
has been constrained to incur, subsequent to the Revolu- 
tion, amount to 2,500,000 iivres. From these expenses, 
and the great falling- off in the product of the free gifts, 
not only a momentary, but a total, want of money has 
taken place." This is" the Paris, upon whose nourishment, 
in the course of the last year, such immense sums, drawn 
from the vitals of all France, have been expended. As 
long as Paris stands in the place of ancient Rome, so 
long she will be maintained by the subject provinces. ^ It 
is aa evil inevitably attendant on the dominion of sovereign 
democratic republics. As it happened in Rome, it may 
survive that republican domination which gave rise to it. 
In that case despotism Itself must submit to the vices of 
popularity. Rome, under her emperors, united the evils 
of both systems; and this unnatural combination was one 
great cause of her ruin. 

To tell the people that they are relieved by the dilapida- 
tion of their public estate, is a cruel and Insolent imposi- 
tion. Statesmen, before they valued themselves on the 
relief given to the people by the destruction of their 
revenue, ought first to have carefully attended to the solu- 
tion of this problem : Whether it be more advantageous 
to the people to pay considerably, and to g'ain in propor- 
tion; or to gain little or nothing, and to be disburthened 
of all contribution? My mind is made up to decide in 
favour of the first proposition. Experience is with me, 
and, I believe, the best opinions also. To keep a balance 
between the power of acquisition on the part of the subject, 
and the demands he is to answer on the part of the state* 
is the fundamental part of the skill of a true politician. 
The means of acquisition are prior in time and in arrange- 
ment. Good order is the foundation of all good things. 
To be enabled to acquire, the people, without being servile, 
must be tractable and obedient. The magistrate must 
have his reverence, the laws their authority. The body 
of the people must not find the principles of natural sub- 
ordination by art rooted out of their minds. They must 
respect that property of which they cannot partake. They 
must labour to obtain what by labour can be obtained; and 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 241 

when they find, as they commonly do, the success dlspro- 
portioned to the endeavour, they must be taught their 
consolation in the final proportions of eternal justice. Of 
this consolation whoever deprives them, deadens their 
industry, and strikes at the root of all acquisition as of all 
conservation. He that does this is the cruel oppressor," 
the merciless enemy of the poor and wretched ; at the same 
time that by his wicked speculations he exposes the fruits 
of successful industry, and the accumulations of fortune, 
to the plunder of the negligent, the disappointed, and the 
unprosperous. 

Too many of the financiers by profession are apt to see 
nothing in revenue but banks, and circulations, and annui- 
ties on lives, and tontines, and perpetual rents, and all the 
small wares of the shop. In a settled order of the state, 
these things are not to be slighted, nor is the skill in them 
to be held of trivial estimation. They are good, but then 
only good, when they assume the effects of that settled 
order, and are built upon it. But when men think that 
these beggarly contrivances may supply a resource for the 
evils which result from breaking up the foundations of 
public order, and from causing or suffering the principles 
of property to be subverted, they will, in the ruin of their 
country, leave a melancholy and lasting monument of the 
effect of preposterous politics, and presumptuous, short- 
sighted, narrow-minded wisdom. 

The effects of the incapacity shown by the popular leaders 
in all the great members of the commonwealth are to be 
covered with the " all-atoning name " of liberty. In some 
people I see great liberty indeed; in many, if not in the 
most, an oppressive, degrading servitude. But what is 
liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the 
greatest of all possible evils ; for it is folly, vice, and mad- 
ness, without tuition or restraint. Those who know what 
virtuous liberty is, cannot bear to see it disgraced by 
incapable heads, on account of their having high-sounding 
words m their mouths. Grand, sw-elling sentiments of 
liberty I am sure I do not despise. They warm the heart ; 
they enlarge and liberalize our minds; they animate our 
courage in a time of conflict. Old as I am, I read the 
fine raptures of Lucan and Corneille with pleasure. 



242 REFLECTIONS ON THE 

Neither do I wholly condemn the little arts and devices of 
popularity. They facilitate the carrying- of many points of 
moment; they keep the people together; they refresh the 
mind in its exertions; and they diffuse occasional gaiety 

over the severe brow of moral freedom. Every politician 
"ought to sacrifice to the graces; and to join compliance 
with reason. But in such an undertaking as that in 
France, all these subsidiary sentiments and artifices are of 
little avail. To make a government requires no great 
prudence. Settle the seat of power ; teach obedience : and 
the work is done. To give freedom is still more easy. 
It is not necessary to guide ; it only requires to let go the 
rein. But to form a free government; that is, to temper 
together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint 
in one consistent work, requires much thought, deep reflec- 
tion, a sagacious, powerful, and combining mind. This J 
do not find in those who take the lead in the National 
Assembly. Perhaps they are not so miserably deficient 
as they appear. I rather believe it. It would put them 
below the common level of human understanding. But 
when the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an 
auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of 
the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers 
instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, 
of the people. If any of them should happen to propose 
a scheme of liberty, soberly limited, and defined with 
proper qualifications, he will be immediately outbid by 
his competitors, who will produce something more 
splendidly popular. Suspicions will be raised of his 
fidelity to his cause. Moderation will be stigmatized as 
the virtue of cowards ; and compromise as the prudence of 
traitors ; until, in hopes of preserving the credit which may 
enable him to temper, and moderate, on some occasions, 
the popular leader is obliged to become active in pro- 
pagating- doctrines, and establishing powers, that will 
afterwards defeat any sober purpose at which he ultimately 
might have aimed. 

But am I so unreasonable as to see nothing at all that 
deserves commendation in the indefatigable labours of this 
Assembly? I do not deny that, among an infinite number 
of acts of violence and folly, some good may have been 
done. They who destroy everything certainly will remove 



REVOLUTION IN FRANCE 243 

some grievance. They who make everything new, have a 
chance that they may establish something beneficial. To 
give them credit for what they have done in virtue of the 
authority they have usurped, or which can excuse them 
in the crimes by which that authority has been acquired, 
it must appear, that the same things could not have been 
accomplished without producing such a revolution. Most 
assuredly they might ; because almost every one of the 
regulations made by them, which is not very equivocal, 
was either in the cession of the king, voluntarily made 
at the meeting of the states, or in the concurrent instruc- 
tions to the orders. Some usages have been abolished on 
just grounds ; but they were such, that if they had stood 
as they were to all eternity, they would little detract from 
the happiness and prosperity of any state. The improve- 
ments of the National Assembly are superficial, their errors 
fundamental. 

Whatever they are, I wish my countrymen rather to 
recommend to our neighbours the example of the British 
constitution, than to take models from them for the im- 
provement of our own. In the former they have got an 
invaluable treasure. They are not, I think, without some 
causes of apprehension and complaint; but these they do 
not owe to their constitution, bu! to their own conduct. 
I think our happy situation owing to our constitution ; but 
owing to the whole of it, and not to any part singly; 
owing in a great measure to what we have left standing 
in our several reviews and reformations, as well as to 
what we have altered or superadded. Our people will 
find employment enough for a truly patriotic, free, and 
independent spirit, in guarding what they possess from 
violation. I would not exclude alteration neither; but 
even when I changed, it should be to preserve. I should 
be led to my remedy by a great grievance. In what I did, 
I should follow the example of our ancestors. I would 
make the reparation as nearly as possible in the style of 
the building. A politic caution, a guarded circumspec- 
tion, a moral rather than a complexional timidity, were 
among the ruling principles of our forefathers in their most 
decided conduct. Not being illuminated with the light of 
which the gentlemen of France tell us they have got ^ so 
abundant a share, they acted under a strong impression 



244 REFLECTIONS ON FRENCH REVOLUTION 

of the Ignorance and fallibility of mankind. He that had 
made them thus fallible, rewarded them for having In their 
conduct attended to their nature. Let us Imitate their 
caution , if we wish to deserve their fortune, or to retain 
their bequests. Let us add, if we please, but let us pre- 
serve what they have left ; and standing on the firm ground 
of the British constitution, let us be satisfied to admire, 
rather than attempt to follow In their desperate flights, the 
aeronauts of France. 

I have told you candidly my sentiments. I think they 
are not likely to alter yours. I do not know that they 
ought. You are young; you cannot guide, but must 
follow the fortune of your country. But hereafter they 
may be of some use to you, in some future form which your 
commonwealth may take. In the present it can hardly 
remain; but before Its final settlement it may be obliged 
to pass, as one of our poets says, "through great varieties 
of untried being," and in all Its transmigrations to be 
purified by fire and blood. 

1 have little to recommend my opinions but long observa- 
tion and much Impartiality. They come from one who has 
been no tool of power, no flatterer of greatness ; and who 
in his last acts does not wish to belie the tenor of his 
life. They come from one, almost the whole of whose 
public exertion has been a struggle for the liberty of 
others; from one in whose breast no anger durable or 
vehement has ever been kindled, but by what he considered 
as tyranny; and who snatches from Ms share In the 
endeavours which are used by good men to discredit 
opulent oppression, the hours he has employed on your 
affairs; and who In so doing persuades himself he has 
not departed from his usual office : they come from one 
who desires honours, distinctions, and emoluments but 
little; and who expects them not at all; wlio has no con- 
tempt for fame, and no fear of obloquy; who shuns con- 
tention, though he will hazard an opinion : from one who 
wishes to preserve consistency, but who would preserve 
consistency by varying Ms means to secure the unity of 
his end; and, when the equipoise of the vessel in which 
he sails may be endangered by overloading it upon one 
side, Is desirous of carrying the small weight of his reasons 
to that which may preserve its equipoise. 



A LETTER FROM MR. BURKE 

TO A 

MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 

IN ANSWER 

TO SOME OBJECTIONS TO HIS BOOK 
ON 

FRENCH AFFAIRS 
1791 

SIR, 

I HAD the honour to receive your letter of the i7th 
of November last; In which, with some exceptions, you 
are pleased to consider favourably the letter I have written 
on the affairs of France. I shall ever accept any mark 
of approbation attended with instruction with more 
pleasure than general and unqualified praises. The latter 
can serve only to flatter our vanity; the former, whilst 
it encourages us to proceed, may help to improve us in 
our progress. 

Some of the errors you point out to me in my printed 
letter are really such. One only I find to be material. 
It is corrected in the edition which I take the liberty of 
sending to you. As to the cavils which may be made 
on some part of my remarks, with regard to the grada- 
tions in your new constitution, you observe justly that 
they do not affect the substance of my objections. 
Whether there be a round more or less in the ladder of 
representation, by which your workmen ascend from 
their parochial tyranny to their federal anarchy, when 
the whole scale is false, appears to me of little or no 
importance. 

24$ 



246 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

I published my thoughts on that constitution, that mr 
countrymen might be enabled to estimate the wisdom oi 
the plans which were held out to their imitation. I con- 
ceived that the true character of those plans would be 
best collected from the committee appointed to prepare 
them. I thought that the scheme of their building would 
be better comprehended in the design of the architects 
than in the execution of the masons. It was not worth 
my reader's while to occupy himself with the alterations 
by which bungling practice corrects absurd theory. Such 
an investigation would be endless : because every day's 
past experience of impracticability has driven, and every 
day's future experience will drive, those men to new 
devices as exceptionable as the old; and which are no 
otherwise worthy of observation than as they give a daily 
proof of the delusion of their promises, and the falsehood 
of their professions. Had I followed all these changes, 
my letter would have been only a gazette of their wander- 
ings ; a journal of their march from error to error, through 
a dry, dreary desert, unguided by the lights of heaven, 
or by the contrivance which wisdom has invented to 
supply their place. 

I am unalterably persuaded that the attempt to oppress, 
degrade, impoverish, confiscate and extinguish the original 
gentlemen and landed property of a whole nation, cannot 
be justified under any form it may assume. I am satisfied 
beyond a doubt that the project of turning a great empire 
into a vestry, or into a collection of vestries, and of 
governing it in the spirit of a parochial administration, is 
senseless and absurd, in any mode, or with any qualifica- 
tions. I can never be convinced that the scheme of 
placing the highest powers of the state in churchwardens 
and constables, and other such officers, guided by the 
prudence of litigious attorneys, and Jew brokers, and set 
in action by shameless women of the lowest condition, by 
keepers of hotels, taverns and brothels, by pert appren- 
tices, by clerks, shop-boys, hair-dressers, fiddlers, and 
dancers on the stage, (who, in such a commonwealth as 
yours, will in future overbear, as already they have over- 
borne, the sober incapacity of dull, uninstructed men, of 
useful but laborious occupations,) can never be put into 
any shape, that must not he both disgraceful and 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 247 

destructive. The whole of this project, even if it were 
what it pretends to be, and was not, in reality, the 
dominion, through that disgraceful medium, of half a 
dozen, or perhaps fewer, intriguing politicians, in so 
mean, so low-minded, so stupid a contrivance, in point of 
wisdom as well as so perfectly detestable for its wicked- 
ness, that I must always consider the correctives, which 
might make it in any degree practicable, to be so many 
new objections to it. 

In that wretched state of things, some are afraid that 
the authors of your miseries may be led to precipitate 
their further designs, by the hints they may receive from 
the very arguments used to expose the absurdity of their 
system, to mark the incongruity of its parts, and Its 
inconsistency with their own principles; and that your 
masters may be led to render their schemes more con- 
sistent, by rendering them more mischievous. Excuse the 
liberty which your indulgence authorizes me to take, when 
I observe to you, that such apprehensions as these would 
prevent all exertion of our faculties in this great cause of 
mankind. 

A rash recourse to force is not to be justified in a state 
of real weakness. Such attempts bring on disgrace; and, 
in their failure, discountenance and discourage more 
rational endeavours. But reason is to be hazarded, 
though it may be perverted by craft and sophistry ; for 
reason can suffer no loss nor shame, nor can it impede 
any useful plan of future policy. In the unavoidable 
uncertainty, as to the effect, which attends on every 
measure of human prudence, nothing seems a surer anti- 
dote to the poison of fraud than its detection. It is true 
the fraud may be swallowed after this discovery; and 
perhaps even swallowed the more greedily for being a 
detected fraud. Men sometimes make a point of honour 
not to be disabused; and they had rather fall into a 
hundred errors than confess one. But after all, when 
neither our principles nor our dispositions nor, perhaps, 
our talents, enable us to encounter delusion with delusion, 
we must use our best reason to those that ought to be 
reasonable creatures, and to take our chance for the 
event. We cannot act on these anomalies in the minds of 
men. I do not conceive that the persons who have con- 



248 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

trived these things can be made much the better or the 

worse for anything which can be said to them. They are 

reason proof. Here and there, some men, who were at 

first carried away by wild, good intentions may be led, 

when their first fervours are abated, to join In a sober 

survey of the schemes into which they had been deluded. 

To those only (and I am sorry to say they are not likely 

to make a large description) we apply with any hope. I 

may speak It upon an assurance almost approaching to 

absolute knowledge that nothing has been done that has 

not been contrived from the beginning^ even before the 

states had assembled. Nulla nova mihi res inopinave 

surgit* They are the same men and the same designs 

that they were from the first, though varied in their 

appearance. It was the very same animal that at first 

crawled about in the shape of a caterpillar, that you 

now see rise into the air and expand his wings to the 

sun. 

Proceeding therefore, as we are obliged to proceed, that 
Is upon an hypothesis that we address rational men, can 
false political principles be more effectually exposed, than 
by demonstrating that they lead to consequences directly 
inconsistent with, and subversive of, the arrangements 
grounded upon them? If this kind of demonstration is 
not permitted, the process of reasoning called deductio ad 
absurdum, which even the severity of geometry does not 
reject, could not be employed at all In legislative discus- 
sions. One of our strongest weapons against folly acting 
with authority would be lost. 

You know, sir, that even the virtuous efforts of your 
patriots to prevent the ruin of your country have had this 
very turn given to them. It has been said here, and in 
France too, that the reigning usurpers would not have 
carried their tyranny to such destructive lengths, if they 
had not been stimulated and provoked to it by the 
acrimony of your opposition. There is a dilemma to 
which every opposition to successful Iniquity must, In 
the nature of things, be liable. If you lie still, you are 
considered as an accomplice in the measures in which 
you silently acquiesce. If you resist, you are accused of 
provoking irritable power to new excesses. The conduct 
of a losing party never appears right : at least It never 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 249 

can possess the only Infallible criterion of wisdom to 
vulgar judgments success. 

The indulgence of a sort of undefined hope, an obscure 
confidence, that some lurking remains of virtue, some 
degree of shame, might exist in the breasts of the oppres- 
sors of France, has been among 1 the causes which have 
helped to bring on the common ruin of king and people. 
There is no safety for honest men, but by believing all 
possible evil of evil men, and by acting with promptitude, 
decision, and steadiness on that belief. I well remember, 
at every epocha of this wonderful history, in every scene 
of this tragic business, that when your sophistic usurpers 
were laying down mischievous principles, and even apply- 
ing them in direct resolutions, it was the fashion to say 
that they never Intended to execute those declarations in 
their rigour. This made men careless in their opposition, 
and remiss in early precaution. By holding out this 
fallacious hope, the Impostors deluded sometimes one 
description of men, and sometimes another, so that no 
means of resistance were provided against them, when 
they came to execute In cruelty what they had planned 
In fraud. 

There are cases in which a man would be ashamed not 
to have been imposed on. There is a confidence necessary 
to human intercourse, and without which men are often 
more injured by their own suspicions than they would be 
by the perfidy of others. But when men whom we know 
to be wicked impose upon us, we are something worse 
than dupes. When we know them, their fair pretences 
become new motives for distrust. There is one case 
Indeed, in which it would be madness not to give the 
fullest credit to the most deceitful of men, that is, when 
they make declarations of hostility against us. 

I find that some persons entertain other hopes, which 
I confess appear more specious than those by which at 
first so many were deluded and disarmed. They flatter 
themselves that the extreme misery brought upon the 
people by their folly will at last open the eyes of the 
multitude, if not of their leaders. Much the contrary, I 
fear. As to the leaders in this system of imposture, 
you know that cheats and deceivers never can repent. 
The fraudulent have no resource but in fraud. They have 

* l4 6o 



2 50 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

no other goods in their magazine. They have no virtue 
or wisdom in their minds, to which, in a disappointment 
concerning the profitable effects of fraud and cunning, 
they can retreat. The wearing out of an old serves only 
to put them upon the invention of a new delusion. 
Unluckily too, the credulity of dupes is as inexhaustible 
as the invention of knaves. They never give people 
possession ; but they always keep them in hope. Your 
state doctors do not so much as pretend that any good 
whatsoever has hitherto been derived from their opera- 
tions, or that the public has prospered in any one instance, 
under their management. The nation is sick, very sick, 
by their medicines. But the charlatan tells them that 
what is passed cannot be helped; they have taken the 
draught, and they must wait its operation with patience; 
that the first effects indeed are unpleasant, but that the 
very sickness is a proof that the dose is of no sluggish 
operation ; that sickness is inevitable in all constitutional 
revolutions; that the body must pass through pain to 
ease; that the prescriber is not an empiric who proceeds 
by vulgar experience, but one who grounds his practice I 
on the sure rules of art, which cannot possibly fail. You 
have read, sir, the last manifesto, or mountebank's bill, 
of the National Assembly. You see their presumption in 
their promises is not lessened by all their failures in the 
performance. Compare this last address of the assembly 
and the present state of your affairs with the early engage- 
ments of that body ; engagements which, not content with 
declaring-, they solemnly deposed upon oath; swearing 
lustily, that if they were supported they would make their 
country glorious and happy; and then judge whether 
those who can write such things, or those who can bear 
to read them, are of themselves to be brought to any 
reasonable course of thought or action. 

As to the people at large, when once these miserable 
sheep have broken the fold, and have got themselves 
loose, not from the restraint, but from the protection of 
all the principles of natural authority and legitimate 

1 It is said in the last quackish address of the National Assembly to the 
people of France, that they have not formed their arrangements upon 
vulgar practice ; but on a theory which cannot fail ; or something to that 
etfc-ct. 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 



251 



subordination, they become the natural prey of impostors. 
When they have once tasted of the flattery of knaves, 
they can no longer endure reason, which appears to them 
only in the form of censure and reproach. Great distress 
has never hitherto taught, and whilst the world lasts it 
never will teach, wise lessons to any part of mankind. 
Men are as much blinded by the extremes of misery as 
by the extremes of prosperity. Desperate situations pro- 
duce desperate councils and desperate measures. The 
people of France, almost generally, have been taught to 
look for other resources than those which can be derived 
from order, frugality, and industry. They are generally 
armed ; and they are made to expect much from the use of 
arms. Nihil non arrogant armis. Besides this, the 
retrograde order of society has something flattering to 
the dispositions of mankind. The life of adventurers, 
gamesters, gipsies, beggars, and robbers is not un- 
pleasant. It requires restraint to keep men from falling 
into that habit. The shifting tides of fear and hope, the 
flight and the pursuit, the peril and escape, the alternate 
famine and feasts of the savage and the thief, after a 
time, render all course of slow, steady, progressive, 
unvaried occupation, and the prospect only of a limited 
mediocrity at the end of long labour, to the last degree 
tame, languid, and insipid. Those who have been once in- 
toxicated with power, and have derived any kind of emolu- 
ment from it, even though but for one year, never can 
willingly abandon it. They may be distressed in the 
midst of all their power; but they will never look to any- 
thing but power for their relief. When did distress ever 
oblige a prince to- abdicate his authority? And what effect 
will it have upon those who are made to believe them- 
selves a people of princes? 

The more active and stirring part of the lower orders 
having got government and the distribution of plunder 
into their hands, they will use its resources in each 
municipality to form a body of adherents. These rulers 
and their adherents will be strong enough to overpower 
the discontents of those who have not been able to assert 
their share of the spoil. The unfortunate adventurers in 
the cheating lottery of plunder will probably be the least 
sagacious, or the most inactive and irresolute of the 



252 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

gang-. If, on disappointment, they should dare to stir, 
they will soon be suppressed as rebels and mutineers by 
their brother rebels. Scantily fed for a while with the 
offal of plunder, they will drop off by degrees; they will 

be driven out of sight and out of thought; and they will 
be left to perish obscurely, like rats, in holes and corners. 

From the forced repentance of invalid mutineers and 
disbanded thieves, you can hope for no resource. Govern- 
ment itself, which ought to constrain the more bold and 
dexterous of these robbers, is their accomplice. Its arms, 
its treasures, its all are in their hands. Judicature, which 
above all things should awe them, is their creature and 
their instrument. Nothing seems to me to render your 
Internal situation more desperate than this one circum- 
stance of the state of your judicature. Many days are 
not passed since we have seen a set of men brought forth 
by your rulers for a most critical function. Your rulers 
brought forth a set of men, steaming from the sweat and 
drudgery, and all black with the smoke and soot of the 
forge of confiscation and robbery ardentis masses ftiligine 
EppoSy a set of men brought forth from the trade of 
hammering arms of proof, offensive and defensive, in aid 
of the enterprises, and for the subsequent protection of 
housebreakers, murderers, traitors, and malefactors; men, 
who had their minds seasoned with theories perfectly con- 
formable to their practice, and who had always laughed 
at possession and prescription, and defied all the funda- 
mental maxims of jurisprudence. To the horror and 
stupefaction of all the honest part of this nation, and 
indeed of all nations who are spectators, we have seen, 
on the credit of those very practices and principles, and 
to carry them further into effect, these very men placed 
on the sacred seat of justice in the capital city of your 
late kingdom. We see that in future you are to be 
destroyed with more form and regularity. This is not 
peace; it is only the introduction of a sort of discipline 
in their hostility. Their tyranny is complete in their 
justice; and their lanterne is not half so dreadful as their 
court. 

One would think that out of common decency they 
would have given you men who had not been in the habit 
of trampling upon law and justice in the assembly, neutral 



OP THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 253 

men, or men apparently neutral, for judges who arc to 
dispose of your lives and fortunes. 

Cromwell, when he attempted to legalize his power, and 
to settle his conquered country in a state of order, did 
not look for dispensers of justice in the instruments of his 
usurpation. Quite the contrary. He sought out, with 
great solicitude and selection, and even from the party 
most opposite to his designs, men of weight and decorum 
of character; men unstained with the violence of the 
times, and with hands not fouled with confiscation and 
sacrilege: for he chose an Hale for his chief justice, 
though he absolutely refused to take his civic oaths, or to 
make any acknowledgment whatsoever of the legality of 
his government. Cromwell told this great lawyer that 
since he did not approve his title, all he required of him 
was ^ to administer, in a manner agreeable to his pure 
sentiments and unspotted character, that justice without 
which human society cannot subsist : that it was not his 
particular government, but civil order itself, which, as a 
judge, he wished him- to support. Cromwell knew how to 
separate the institutions expedient to his usurpation from 
the administration of the public justice of his country. 
For Cromwell was a man in whom arnbitien had not 
wholly suppressed, but only suspended the sentiments of 
religion, and the love (as far as it could consist with his 
designs) of fair and honourable reputation. Accordingly, 
we are indebted to this act of his for the preservation of 
our laws, which some senseless assertors of the rights of 
men were then on the point of entirely erasing, as relics 
of feudality and barbarism. Besides, he gave in the 
appointment ^ of that man, to that age and to all posterity 
the most brilliant example of sincere and fervent piety, 
exact justice, and profound jurisprudence. 1 But these are 
not the things in which your philosophic usurpers choose 
to follow Cromwell 

One would think that after an honest and necessary 
revolution (if they had a mind that theirs should pass for 
such) your masters would have imitated the virtuous 
policy of those who have been at the head- of revolutions 
of that glorious character. Burnet tells us, that nothing 
tended to reconcile the English nation to the government 
1 See Bumefs Life of Hale. 



254 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

of King William so muck as the care he took to fill the 
vacant bishoprics with men who had attracted the public 
esteem by their learning, eloquence, and piety, and, 
above all, by their known moderation in the state. With 
yon, in your purifying revolution, whom have you chosen 
to regulate the church? Mr. Mirabeau is a fine speaker 
and a fine writer, and a fine a very fine man ; but 
really nothing gave more surprise to everybody here, 
than to find him the supreme head of your ecclesiastical 
affairs. The rest is of course. Your assembly addresses 
a manifesto to France, in which they tell the people, with 
an insulting irony, that they have brought the church to 
its primitive condition. In one respect their declaration is 
undoubtedly true; for they have brought it to a state of 
poverty and persecution. What can be hoped for after 
this? Have not men, (if they deserve the name,) under 
this new hope and head of the church, been made bishops 
for no other merit than having acted as instruments of 
atheists; for no other merit than having thrown the chil- 
dren's bread to dogs; and, in order to gorge the whole 
gang of usurers, pedlers, and itinerant Jew-discounters 
at the corners of streets, starved the poor of their Chris- 
tian flocks, and their own brother pastors? Have not 
such men been made bishops to administer in temples, in 
which (if the patriotic donations have not already stripped 
them of their vessels) the churchwardens ought to take 
security for the altar plate, and not so much as to trust 
the chalice in their sacrilegious hands, so long as Jews 
have assignats on ecclesiastical plunder, to exchange for 
the silver stolen from churches? 

I am told, that the very sons of such Jew-jobbers have 
been made bishops ; persons not to be suspected of any 
sort of Christian superstition, fit colleagues to the holy 
prelate of Autun, and bred at the feet of that Gamaliel. 
We know who it was that drove the money-changers out 
of the temple. We see, too, who it is that brings them 
in again. We have in London very respectable persons 
of the Jewish nation, whom we will keep; but we have 
of the same tribe others of a very different description, 
house-breakers, and receivers of stolen goods, and forgers 
of paper currency, more than we can conveniently hang. 
These we can spare to France, to fill the new episcopal 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 255 

thrones : men well versed in swearing ; and who will 
scruple no oath which the fertile genius of any of your 
reformers can devise. 

In matters so ridiculous, it is hard to be grave. On 
a view of their consequences, it is almost inhuman to 
treat them lightly. To what a state of savage, stupid, 
servile insensibility must your people be reduced, who 
can endure such proceedings in their church, their state, 
and their judicature, even for a moment ! But the deluded 
people of France are like other madmen, who, to a 
miracle, bear hunger, and thirst, and cold, and confine- 
ment, and the chains and lash of their keeper, whilst all 
the while they support themselves by the imagination that 
they are generals of armies, prophets, kings, and 
emperors. As to a change of mind in these men, who 
consider infamy as honour, degradation as preferment, 
bondage to low tyrants as liberty, and the practical scorn 
and contumely of their upstart masters as marks of 
respect and homage, I look upon it as absolutely imprac- 
ticable. These madmen, to be cured, must first, like 
other madmen, be subdued. The sound part of the com- 
munity, which I believe to be large, but by no means the 
largest part, has been taken by surprise, and is disjointed, 
terrified, and disarmed. That sound part of the com- 
munity must first be put into a better condition, before 
it can do anything in the way of deliberation or persua- 
sion. This must be an act of power, as well as of wisdom ; 
of power, in the hands of firm, determined patriots, who 
can distinguish the misled from traitors, who will regu- 
late the state (if such should be their fortune) with a 
discriminating, manly, and provident mercy ; men who 
are purged of the surfeit and indigestion of systems, if 
ever they have been admitted into the habit of their 
minds ; men who will lay the foundation of a real reform, 
in effacing every vestige of that philosophy which pretends 
to have made discoveries in the terra australis of morality ; 
men who will fix the state upon these bases of morals 
and politics, which are our old and immemorial and, I 
hope, will be our eternal possession. 

This power, to such men, must come from without. 
It may be given to you in pity; for surely no nation ever 
called so pathetically on the compassion of all its neigh- 



2^ LETTER TO A MEMBER 

hours. It may be given by those neighbours on motives 
of safety to themselves. Never shall I think any country 
in Europe to be secure, \vhilst there is established, in the 
very centre of it, a state (if so it may be called) founded 
on principles of anarchy, and which is, in reality, a college 
of armed fanatics, for the propagation of the principles 
of assassination, robbery 3 rebellion, fraud, faction, oppres- 
sion, and impiety. Mahomet, hid, as for a time he was, 
in the bottom of the sands of Arabia, had his spirit and 
character been discovered, would have been an object of 
precaution to provident minds. What if he had erected 
his fanatic standard for the destruction of the Christian 
religion in Ince Asice, in the midst of the then noon-day 
splendour of the then civilized world? The princes of 
Europe, in the beginning of this century, did well not to 
suffer the monarchy of France to swallow up the others. 
They ought not now, In my opinion, to suffer all the 
monarchies and commonwealths to be swallowed up in the 
gulf of this polluted anarchy. They may be tolerably safe 
at present, because the comparative power of France for 
the present is little. But times and occasions make 
dangers. Intestine troubles may rise in other countries, 
There is a power always on the watch, qualified and 
disposed to profit of every conjuncture, to establish its 
own principles and modes of mischief, wherever it can 
hope for success. What mercy would these usurpers have 
on other sovereigns, and on other nations, when they treat 
their own king with such unparalleled indignities, and so 
cruelly oppress their own countrymen? 

The King of Prussia, In concurrence with us, nobly 
interfered to save Holland from confusion. The same 
power, joined with the rescued Holland and with Great 
Britain, ' has put the emperor in the possession of the 
Netherlands; and secured, under that prince, from all 
arbitrary Innovation, the ancient, hereditary constitution 
of those provinces. The chamber of Wetzlar has restored 
the Bishop of LI6ge, unjustly dispossessed by the rebellion 
of his subjects. The King of Prussia was bound by no 
treaty, nor alliance of blood, nor had any particular reason 
for thinking the emperor's government would be more 
mischievous or more oppressive to human nature than that 
of the Turk ; yet on mere motives of policy that prince has 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 257 

Interposed with the threat of all his force, to snatch even 
the Turk from the pounces of the Imperial eagle. If this 
is done in favour of a barbarous nation, with a barbarous 
neglect of police, fatal to the human race, In favour of a 
nation, by principle in eternal enmity with the Christian 
name ; a nation which will not so much as give the saluta- 
tion of peace (Salam) to any of us; nor make any pact 
with any Christian nation beyond a truce ; If this be done 
In favour of the Turk, shall it be thought either impolitic, 
or unjust, or uncharitable, to employ the same power to 
rescue from captivity a virtuous monarch (by the courtesy 
of Europe considered as Most Christian), who, after an 
Intermission of one hundred and seventy-five years, had 
called together the states of his kingdom to reform abuses, 
to establish a free government, and to strengthen his 
throne ; a monarch, who, at the very outset, without force, 
even without solicitation, had given to his people such a 
Magna Charta of privileges as never was given by any 
king to any subjects? Is it to be tamely borne by kings 
who love their subjects, or by subjects who love their 
kings, that this monarch, in the midst of these gracious 
acts, was insolently and cruelly torn from his palace, by a 
gang of traitors and assassins, and kept in close prison to 
this very hour, whilst his royal name and sacred character 
were used for the total ruin of those whom the laws had 
appointed him to protect? 

The only offence of this unhappy monarch towards his 
people was his attempt, under a monarchy, to give them 
a free constitution. For this, by an example hitherto 
unheard-of in the world, he has been deposed. It might 
well disgrace sovereigns to take part with a deposed 
tyrant. It would suppose in them a vicious sympathy. 
But not to make a common cause with a just prince, 
dethroned by traitors and rebels, who proscribe, plunder, 
confiscate, and in every way cruelly oppress their fellow- 
citizens, in my opinion is to forget what is due to the 
honour and to the rights of all virtuous and legal govern- 
ment. 

I_ think the King of France to be as much an object 
both of policy and compassion as the Grand Seignior or 
his states. I do not conceive that the total annihilation 
of France (if that could be effected) is a desirable thing 



258 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

to Europe; or even to this its rival nation. Provident 
patriots did not think it good for Rome that even Carthage 
should be quite destroyed ; and he was a wise Greek, wise 
for the general Grecian interests, as well as a brave Lace- 
demonian enemy and generous conqueror, who did not 
wish, by the destruction of Athens, to pluck out the other 
eye of Greece. 

However, sir, what I have here said of the interference 
of foreign princes is only the opinion of a private indi- 
vidual ; who Is neither the representative of any state, 
nor the organ of any party ; but who thinks himself 
bound to express his own sentiments with freedom and 
energy in a crisis of such importance to the whole human 
race. 

I am not apprehensive that in speaking freely on the 
subject of the King and Queen of France, I shall accelerate 
(as you fear) the execution of traitorous designs against 
them. You are of opinion, sir, that the usurpers may, 
and that they will, gladly lay hold of any pretext to throw 
off the very name of a king : assuredly I do not wish ill 
to your king; but better for him not to live (he does not 
reign) than to live the passive instrument of tyranny and 
usurpation. 

I certainly mean to show, to the best of my power, that 
the existence of such an executive officer, in such a system 
of republic as theirs, is absurd in the highest degree. But 
In demonstrating this to them, at least, I can have made 
no discovery. They only held out the royal name to catch 
those Frenchmen to whom the name of king* is still vener- 
able. They calculate the duration of that sentiment; and 
when they find it nearly expiring, they will not trouble 
themselves with excuses for extinguishing the name, as 
they have the thing. They used it as a sort of navel-string 
to nourish their unnatural offspring from the bowels of 
royalty itself. Now that the monster can purvey for its 
own subsistence, it will only carry the mark about it, as a 
token of its having torn the womb it came from. Tyrants 
seldom want pretexts. Fraud is the ready minister of 
Injustice; and whilst the currency of false pretence and 
sophistic reasoning was expedient to their designs, they 
were under no necessity of drawing upon me to furnish 
them with that coin. But pretexts and sophisms have had 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 259 

their day, and have done their work. The usurpation no 
longer seeks plausibility. It trusts to power. 

Nothing that I can say, or that you can say, will hasten 
them, by a single hour, in the execution of a design which 
they have long since entertained. In spite of their solemn 
declarations, their soothing addresses, and the multiplied 
oaths which they have taken and forced others to take, 
they will assassinate the king when his name will no longer 
be necessary to their designs; but not a moment sooner. 
They will probably first assassinate the queen, whenever 
the renewed menace of such an assassination loses its 
effect upon the anxious mind of an affectionate husband. 
At present, the advantage which they derive from the daily 
threats against her Jife is her only security for preserving 
It. They keep their sovereign alive for the purpose of 
exhibiting him, like some wild beast at a fair ; as If thev 
had a Bajazet in a cage. They choose to make monarchy 
contemptible by exposing it to derision in the person of 
the most benevolent of their kings. 

In my opinion their insolence appears more odious even 
than their crimes. The horrors of the 5th and 6th of 
October were less detestable than the festival of the i4th 
of July There are situations (God forbid I should think 
that of the 5th and 6th of October one of them) in which 
the best men may be confounded with the worst, and In 
the darkness and confusion, In the press and medley of 
such extremities, it may not be so easy to discriminate 
the one from the other. The necessities created, even by- 
Ill designs, have their excuse. They may be forgotten by 
others, when the guilty themselves do not choose to 
cherish their recollection, and by ruminating their offences, 
nourish themselves through the example of their past, to 
the perpetration of future crimes. It is in the relaxation 
of security, it Is in the expansion of prosperity, it is in the 
hour of dilatation of the heart, and of Its softening into 
festivity and pleasure, that the real character of men is 
discerned. If there is any good in them, It appears then 
or never. Even wolves and tigers, when gorged with their 
prey, are safe and gentle. It is at such times that noble 
minds give all the reins to their good nature. They indulge 
their genius even to intemperance, In kindness to the 
afflicted, in generosity to the conquered; forbearing 



2Go LETTER TO A MEMBER 

insults, forgiving- Injuries, overpaying benefits. Full of 

dignity themselves, they respect dignity in all, but they 
feel it sacred in the unhappy. But it is then, and basking 
in the sunshine of unmerited fortune, that low, sordid, 
ungenerous, and reptile souls swell with their hoarded 
poisons ; it is then that they display their odious splendour, 
and shine out in full lustre of their native villany and 
baseness. It is in that season that no man of sense or 
honour can be mistaken for one of them. It was in such 
a season, for them of political ease and security, though 
their people were but just emerged from actual famine, 
and were ready to be plunged into the gulf of penury and 
beggary, that your philosophic lords chose, with an 
ostentatious pomp and luxury, to feast an incredible 
number of idle and thoughtless people, collected, with art 
and pains, from all quarters of the world. They con- 
structed a vast amphitheatre in which they raised a species 
of pillory. 1 On this pillory they set their lawful king and 
queen, with an insulting figure over their heads. There 
they exposed these objects of pity and respect to all good 
minds to the derision of an unthinking and unprincipled 
multitude, degenerated even from the versatile tenderness 
which marks the irregular and capricious feelings of the 
populace. That their cruel insult might have nothing 
wanting to complete it, they chose the anniversary of that 
day in which they exposed the life of their prince to the 
most imminent dangers, and the vilest indignities, just 
following the instant when the assassins, whom they had 
hired without owning, first openly took up arms against 
their king, corrupted his guards, surprised his castle, 
butchered some of the poor invalids of his garrison, 
murdered his governor, and, like wild beasts, tore to pieces 
the chief magistrate of his capital city, on account of his 
fidelity to his service. 

Till the justice of the world is awakened, such as these 
will go on, without admonition, and without provoca- 
tion, to every extremity. Those who have made the 
exhibition of the i4th of July are capable of every evil. 
They do not commit crimes for their designs ; but they 
form designs that they may commit crimes. It is not 

1 The pis lory (car can) in England Is generally made very high, like that 

raised for exposing the King of France. 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 261 

their necessity, but their nature, which impels them. They 
are modern philosophers; which when you say of them 
you express everything that is ignoble, savage, and hard- 
hearted. 

Besides the sure tokens which are given by the spirit 
of their particular arrangements, there are some char- 
acteristic lineaments in the general policy of your tumultu- 
ous despotism, which, in my opinion, indicate, beyond a 
doubt, that no revolution whatsoever in their disposition 
is to be expected. I mean their scheme of educating the 
rising generation, the principles which they intend to instil, 
and the sympathies which they \vish to form in the mind 
at the season in which it is the most susceptible. Instead 
of forming their young minds to that docility, to that 
modesty, which are the grace and charm of youth, to an 
admiration of famous examples, and to an averseness to 
anything which approaches to pride, petulance, and self- 
conceit, (distempers to which that time of life is of itself 
sufficiently liable,) they artificially foment these evil dis- 
positions, and even form them into springs of action. 
Nothing ought to be more weighed than the nature of 
books recommended by public authority. So recom- 
mended, they soon form the character of the age. Uncer- 
tain indeed is the efficacy, limited indeed is the extent, 
of a virtuous institution. But if education takes in vice 
as any part of ^ its system, there is no doubt but that It 
will operate with abundant energy, and to an extent 
indefinite. The magistrate, who in favour of freedom 
thinks himself obliged to suffer al! sorts of publications, 
is under a stricter duty than any other well to consider 
what sort of writers he shall authorize, and shall recom- 
mend by the strongest of all sanctions, that is, by public 
honours and rewards. He ought to be cautioned how he- 
recommends authors of mixed or ambiguous morality. He 
ought to be fearful of putting into the hands of youth 
writers indulgent to the peculiarities of their own com- 
plexion, lest they should teach the humours of the pro- 
fessor, rather than the principles of the science. He 
ought, above all, to be cautious in recommending any 
writer who has carried marks of a deranged understand- 
ing; for where there is no sound reason there can be no 
real virtue; and madness is ever vicious and malignant. 



262 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

The assembly proceeds on maxims the very reverse of 
these. The assembly recommends to Its youth a study of 
the bold experimenters in morality. Everybody knows 
that there Is a great dispute amongst their leaders, which 
of them is the best resemblance of Rousseau. In truth, 
they all resemble Mm. His blood they transfuse Into their 
minds and Into their manners. Him they study; him they 
meditate ; him they turn over in all the time they can spare 
from the laborious mischief of the day, or the debauches 
of the night. Rousseau Is their canon of holy writ ; in his 
Fife he Is their canon of Polycletus ; he Is their standard 
figure of perfection. To this man and this writer, as a 
pattern to authors and to Frenchmen, the foundries of 
Paris are now running for statues, with the kettles of their 
poor and the bells of their churches. If an author had 
written like a great genius on geometry, though his prac- 
tical and speculative morals were vicious in the extreme, 
it might appear, that In voting the statue, they honoured 
only the geometrician. But Rousseau is a moralist, or he 
is nothing. It Is Impossible, therefore, putting the circum- 
stances together, to mistake their design in choosing the 
author with whom they have begun to recommend a course 
of studies. 

Their great problem Is to find a substitute for all the 
principles which hitherto have been employed to regulate 
the human will and action. They find dispositions In the 
mind of such force and quality as may fit men, far better 
than the old morality, for the purposes of such a state 
as theirs, and may go much further in supporting their 
power, and destroying their enemies. They have therefore 
chosen a selfish, flattering, seductive, ostentatious vice, in 
the place of plain duty. True the basis of the Christian 
system, humility, Is the low, but deep and firm foundation 
of all real virtue. But this, as very painful In the practice, 
and little Imposing In the appearance, they have totally 
discarded. Their object is to merge all natural and all 
social sentiment in inordinate vanity. In a small degree, 
and conversant In little things, vanity is of little moment! 
When full grown, It is the worst of vices, and the occa- 
sional mimic of them all. It makes the whole man false. 
It leaves nothing sincere or trustworthy about him. His 
best qualities are poisoned and perverted by It, and operate 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 263 

exactly as the worst. When your lords had many writers 
as Immoral as the object of their statue (such as Voltaire 
and others) they chose Rousseau; because in him that 
peculiar vice, which they wished to erect Into ruling virtue, 
was by far the most conspicuous. 

We have had the great professor and founder of the 
philosophy of vanity in England. As 1 had good oppor- 
tunities of knowing his proceedings almost from day to 
day, he left no doubt on my mind that he entertained no 
principle either to influence his heart, or to guide his 
understanding but vanity. With this vice he was possessed 
to a degree little short of madness. It is from the same 
deranged, eccentric vanity, that this, the insane Socrates 
of the National Assembly, was impelled to publish a mad 
confession of his mad faults, and to attempt a new sort 
of glory from bringing hardily to light the obscure and 
vulgar vices, which we know may sometimes be blended 
with eminent talents. He has not observed on the nature 
of vanity who does not know that it is omnivorous ; that 
it has no choice in its food; that it is fond to talk even 
of its own faults and vices, as what will excite surprise 
and draw attention, and what will pass at worst for open- 
ness and candour. 

It was this abuse and perversion, which vanity makes 
even of hypocrisy, that has driven Rousseau to record a 
life not so much as chequered, or spotted here and there, 
with virtues, or even distinguished by a single good action. 
It is such a life he chooses to offer to the attention of 
mankind. It is such a life that, with a wild defiance, he 
flings in the face of his Creator, whom he acknowledges 
only to brave. Your assembly, knowing how much more 
powerful example is found than precept, has chosen this 
man (by his own account without a single virtue) for a 
model. To him they erect their first statue. From him 
they commence their series of honours and distinctions. 

It is that new invented virtue, which your masters 
canonize, that led their moral hero constantly to exhaust 
the stores of his powerful rhetoric in the expression of 
universal benevolence; whilst his heart was incapable of 
harbouring one spark of common parental affection. 
Benevolence to the whole species, and want of feeling 
for every individual with whom the professors come in 



264 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

contact, form the character of the new philosophy. Setting 
up for an unsocial independence, this their hero of vanity 
refuses the just price of common labour , as well as the 
tribute which opulence owes to genius, and which, when 
paid, honours the giver and the receiver; and then he 
pleads his beggary as an excuse for his crimes. He melts 
with tenderness for those only who touch him by the 
remotest relation, and then, without one natural pang, 
casts away, as a sort of offal and excrement, the spawn 
of his disgustful amours, and sends his children to the 
hospital of foundlings. The bear loves, licks, and forms 
her young ; but bears are not philosophers. Vanity, how- 
ever, finds its account in reversing the train of our natural 
feelings. Thousands admire the sentimental writer; the 
affectionate father is hardly known in his parish. 

Under this philosophic instructor in the ethics of vanity, 
they have attempted in France a regeneration of the moral 
constitution of man. Statesmen, like your present rulers, 
exist by everything which is spurious, fictitious, and false ; 
by everything- which takes the man from his house, and 
sets him on a stage; which makes Mm up an artificial 
creature, with gainted, theatric sentiments, fit to be seen 
by the glare of candlelight, and formed to be contemplated 
at a due distance. Vanity is too apt to prevail in all of 
us, and in all countries. To the improvement of French- 
men it seems not absolutely necessary that it should be 
taught upon system. But it is plain that the present 
rebellion was its legitimate offspring, and it is piously fed 
by that rebellion with a daily dole. 

If the system of instruction recommended by the 
assembly be false and theatric, it is because their system 
of government is of the same character. To that, and to 
that alone, it is strictly conformable. To understand 
either, we must connect the morals with the politics of the 
legislators. Your practical philosophers, systematic in 
everything, have wisely begun at the source. As the rela- 
tion between parents and children is the first amongst the 
elements of vulgar, natural morality ; * they erect statues 

1 FIKola tua te delectari isetor et probari tibl $v<njcV esse rty irpbs T& 
Tia?a : etenim, si hsec non est, nulls, potest hotnini esse ad hominem naturae 
adjunctio: qua-sublata vita societas tollitur. Valtte Patron (Rousseau) et 
tai condiscipuli ! (L ? Assembles Nationale.) Cic. Ep. ad Atticum. 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 265 

to a wild, ferocious, low-minded, hard-hearted father, of 
fine genera! feelings : a lover of his kind, but a hater of 
his kindred. Your masters reject the duties of his vulgar 
relation, as contrary to liberty; as not founded in the 
social compact ; and not binding according to the rights of 
men; because the relation is not, of course, the result of 
free election; never so on the side of the children, not 
always on the part of the parents. 

The next relation which they regenerate by their statues 
to Rousseau is that which is next in sanctity to that of a 
father. They differ from those old-fashioned thinkers, who 
considered pedagogues as sober and venerable characters, 
and allied to the parental. The moralists of the dark times, 
preceptorem sancti voluere parentis esse loco. In this age 
of light, they teach the people that preceptors ought to be 
in the place of gallants. They systematically corrupt a 
very corruptible race (for some time a growing nuisance 
amongst you), a set of pert, petulant literators, to whom 
instead of their proper, but severe unostentatious duties, 
they assign the brilliant part of men of wit and pleasure, 
of gay, young, military sparks, and danglers at toilets. 
They call on the rising generation in France to take a 
sympathy in the adventures and fortunes, and they 
endeavour to engage their sensibility on the side of peda- 
gogues who betray the most awful family trusts, and 
vitiate their female pupils. They teach the people that the 
debauchers of virgins, almost in the arms of their parents, 
may be safe inmates in their houses, and even fit guardians 
of the honour of those husbands who succeed legally to the 
office which the young literators had pro-occupied, without 
asking leave of law or conscience. 

Thus they dispose of all the family relations of parents 
and children, husbands and wives. Through this same 
instructor, by whom they corrupt the morals, they corrupt 
the taste. Taste and elegance, though they are reckoned 
only among the smaller and secondary morals, yet are of 
no mean importance in the regulation of life. A moral 
taste is not of force to turn vice into virtue ; but it recom- 
mends virtue with something like the blandishments of 
pleasure ; and it infinitely abates the evils of vice. Rousseau, 
a writer of great force and vivacity, is totally destitute 
of taste in any sense of the word. Your masters, who are 



266 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

his scholars, conceive that all refinement has an aristo- 
cratic character. The last age had exhausted all its powers 
in giving" a grace and nobleness to our mutual appetites, 
and in raising them into a higher class and order than 
seemed justly to belong to them. Through Rousseau, your 
masters are resolved to destroy these aristocratic preju- 
dices. The passion called love has so general and powerful 
an influence; it makes so much of the entertainment, and 
indeed so much of the occupation of that part of life which 
decides the character for ever, that the mode and the prin- 
ciples on which it engages the sympathy, and strikes the 
imagination, become of the utmost importance to the 
morals and manners of every society. Your rulers are well 
aware of this ; and in their system of changing your 
manners to accommodate them to their politics, they found 
nothing so convenient as Rousseau. Through him they 
teach men to love after the fashion of philosophers ; that is, 
they teach to men, to Frenchmen, a love without gallantry ; 
a love without anything of that fine flower of youthfulness 
and gentility, which places it, if not among the virtues, 
among the ornaments of life. Instead of this passion, 
naturally allied to grace and manners, they infuse into their 
youth an unfashioned, indelicate, sour, gloomy, ferocious 
medley of pedantry and lewdness ; of metaphysical specula- 
tions blended with the coarsest sensuality. Such is the 
general morality of the passions to be found in their 
famous philosopher, in^ his famous work of philosophic 
gallantry the Nouvelle Eloise. 

When the fence from the gallantry of preceptors is 
broken down, and your families are no longer protected 
hj decent pride, and salutary domestic prejudice, there is 
but one step to a frightful corruption. The rulers in the 
National Assembly are in good hopes that the females of 
the first families in France may become an easy prey to 
dancing-masters, fiddlers, pattern-drawers, friseurs, and 
valets de chambre, and other active citizens of that descrip- 
tion, who having the entry into your houses, and being 
half domesticated by their situation, may be blended with 
you by regular and irregular relations. By a law they 
have made these people their equals. By adopting the 
sentiments of Rousseau they have made them your rivals. 
In this manner these great legislators complete their plan 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 267 

of levelling-, and establish their rights of men on a sure 
foundation. 

I am certain that the writings of Rousseau lead directly 
to this kind of shameful evil. I have often wondered how 
he comes to be so much more admired and followed on 
the Continent than he is here. Perhaps a secret charm in 
the language may have its share in this extraordinary 
difference. We certainly perceive, and to a degree we feel, 
in this writer, a style glowing, animated, enthusiastic; at 
the same time that we find it lax, diffuse, and not in the 
best taste of composition; all the members of the piece 
being pretty equally laboured and expanded, without any 
due selection or subordination of parts. He is generally 
too much on the stretch, and his manner has little variety. 
We cannot rest upon any of his works, though they contain 
observations which occasionally discover a considerable 
insight into human nature. But his doctrines, on the 
whole, are so inapplicable to real life and manners, that 
we never dream of drawing from them any rule for laws 
or conduct, or for fortifying or illustrating anything by 
a reference to his opinions. They have with us the fate of 
older paradoxes, 

Cum ventum ad verum est sensus moresque repugnant, 
Atque ipsa utilitas justi prope mater et sequi. 

Perhaps bold speculations are more acceptable because 
more new to you than to us, who have been long since 
satiated with them. We continue, as in the two last ages, 
to read, more generally than I believe is now done on the 
Continent, the authors of sound antiquity. These occupy 
our minds. They give us another taste and turn ; and will 
not suffer us to be more than transiently amused with 
paradoxical morality. It is not that I consider this writer 
as wholly destitute of just notions. Amongst his irregu- 
larities, it must be reckoned that he is sometimes moral, 
and moral in a very sublime strain. But the general spirit 
and tendency of his works is mischievous ; and the more 
mischievous for this mixture : for perfect depravity of 
sentiment is not reconcilable with eloquence ; and the mind 
(though corruptible, not complexionally vicious) would 
reject, and throw off with disgust, a lesson of pure and 



268 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

unmixed evil. These writers make even virtue a pander 
to vice. 

However, I less consider the author than the system of 
the assembly in perverting* morality through his means. 
This I confess makes me nearly despair of any attempt 
upon the minds of their followers, through reason, honour, 
or conscience. The great object of your tyrants is to 
destroy the gentlemen of France; and for that purpose 
they destroy, to the best of their power, all the effect of 
those relations which may render considerable men 
powerful or even safe. To destroy that order, they vitiate 
the whole community. That no means may exist of con- 
federating against^ their tyranny, by the false sympathies 
of the Nouvelle Eloise they endeavour to subvert those 
principles of domestic trust and fidelity, which form the 
discipline of social life. They propagate principles by 
which every servant may think it, if not his duty, at least 
his privilege to betray his master. By these principles 
every considerable father of a family loses the sanctuary 
of his house. Debet sua cuique domus esse perfugium 
tutissimwn, says the law, which your legislators have 
taken so much pains first to decry, then to repeal. They 
destroy all the tranquillity and security of domestic life; 
turning the asylum of the house into a gloomy prison, 
where the father of the family must drag out a miserable 
existence, endangered in proportion to the apparent means 
of his safety ; where he is worse than solitary in a crowd of 
domestics^ and more apprehensive from his servants and 
inmates, than from the hired, bloodthirsty mob without 
doors, who are ready to pull him to the lanterne. 

It is thus, and for the same end, that they endeavour to 
destroy that tribunal of conscience which exists independ- 
ently of edicts and decrees. Your despots govern by terror. 
They know that he who fears God fears nothing else : and 
therefore they eradicate from the mind, through their 
Voltaire, their Helvetius, and the rest of that infamous 
gang, that only sort of fear xvhich generates true courage. 
Their object is, that their fellow-citizens may be under 
the dominion of no awe, but that of their committee of 
research, and of their lanterne. 

Having found the advantage of assassination in the 
formation of their tyranny, it is the grand resource in 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 269 

which they trust for the support of it. Whoever opposes 
any of their proceedings, or is suspected of a design to 
oppose them, is to answer it with his life, or the lives of 
his wife and children. This infamous, cruel, and cowardly 
practice of assassination they have the impudence to call 
merciful. They boast that they operated their usurpation 
rather by terror than by force ; and "that a few seasonable 
murders have prevented the bloodshed of many battles. 
There is no doubt they will extend these acts of mercy 
whenever they see an occasion. Dreadful, however, will 
be the consequences of their attempt to avoid the evils of 
war by the merciful policy of murder. If, by effectual 
punishment of the guilty, they do not wholly disavow that 
practice, and the threat of it too, as any part of their policy ; 
if ever a foreign prince enters into France, he must enter 
it as into a country of assassins. The mode of civilized war 
will not be practised; nor are the French who act on the 
present system entitled to expect it. They, whose known 
policy is to assassinate every citizen whom they suspect 
to be discontented by their tyranny, and to corrupt the 
soldiery of every open enemy, must look for no modified 
hostility. All war, which is not battle, will be military 
execution. This will beget acts of retaliation from you; 
and every retaliation will beget a new revenge. The hell- 
hounds of war, on all sides, will be uncoupled and 
unmuzzled. The new school of murder and barbarism, set 
up in Paris, having destroyed (so far as in it lies) all the 
other manners and principles which have hitherto civilized 
Europe, will destroy also the mode of civilized war which, 
more than anything else, has distinguished the Christian 
world. Such is the approaching golden age, which the 
Virgil 1 of your assembly has sung to his Pollios ! 

In such a situation of your political, your civil, and your 
social morals and manners, how can you be hurt by the 
freedom of any discussion? Caution is for those who have 
something to lose. What J have said, to justify myself in 
not apprehending any ill consequence from a free discus- 
sion of the absurd consequences which flow from the rela- 
tion of the lawful king to the usurped constitution, will 
apply to my vindication with regard to the exposure I 
liave made of the state of the army under the same sophistic 
1 Mirabeau's speech concerning universal peace. 



270 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

usurpation. The present tyrants want no arguments to 
prove, what they must daily feel, that no good army can 

exist on their principles. They are in no want of a monitor 
to suggest to them the policy of getting rid of the army, 
as well as of the king, whenever they are in a condition 
to effect- that measure. What hopes may be entertained 
of your army for the restoration of your liberties, I know 
not. At present, yielding obedience to the pretended orders 
of a king, who, they are perfectly apprized, has no will, 
and who never can Issue a mandate which is not intended, 
in the first operation, or in its certain consequences, for 
his own destruction, your army seems to make one of the 
principal links in the chain of that servitude of anarchy, by 
which a cruel usurpation holds an undone people at once in 
bondage and confusion. 

You ask me what I think of the conduct of General 
Monk. How this affects your case I cannot tell. I doubt 
whether you possess, in France, any persons of a capacity 
to serve the French monarchy In the same manner in 
which Monk served the monarchy of England. The army 
which Monk commanded had been formed by Cromwell to 
a perfection of discipline which perhaps has never been 
exceeded. That army was besides of an excellent com- 
position. The soldiers were men of extraordinary piety 
after their mode, of the greatest regularity, and even 
severity of manners ; brave in the field, but modest, quiet, 
and orderly in their quarters; men who abhorred the idea 
of assassinating their officers or any other persons; and 
who (they at least who served in this Island) were firmly 
attached to those generals by whom they were well treated 
and ably commanded. Such an army, once gained, might 
be depended on. I doubt much, if you could now find a 
Monk, whether a Monk could find in France such an army. 

I certainly agree with you that in all probability we owe 
our whole constitution to the restoration of the English 
monarchy. The state of things from which Monk relieved 
England was however by no means, at that time, so 
deplorable in any sense as yours is now, and under the 
present sway is likely to continue. Cromwell had deliv- 
ered England from anarchy. His government, though 
military and despotic, had been regular and orderly. Under 
the iron, and under the yoke, the soil yielded its produce. 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 271 

After his death the evils of anarchy were rather dreaded 
than felt. Every man was yet safe In his house and in 
his property. But it must be admitted that Monk freed 
this nation from great and just apprehensions both of 
future anarchy and of probable tyranny in some form or 
other. The king whom he gave us was indeed the very 
reverse of your benignant sovereign, who, in reward for 
his attempt to bestow liberty on his subjects, languishes 
himself ^ in prison. The person given to us by Monk was a 
man without any sense of his duty as a prince; without 
any ^regard to the dignity of his crown ; without any love 
to his people; dissolute, false, venal, and destitute of any 
positive good quality whatsoever, except a pleasant temper 
and the manners of a gentleman. Yet the restoration of 
our monarchy, even in the person of such a prince, was 
everything to us ; for without monarchy in England, most 
certainly we never can enjoy either peace or liberty. It 
was under this conviction that the very first regular step, 
which we took on the Revolution of 1688, was to fill the 
throne with a real king ; and even before it could be done 
in due form, the chiefs of the nation did not attempt them- 
selves to exercise authority so much as by interim. They 
instantly requested the Prince of Orange to take the 
government on himself. The throne was not effectively 
vacant for an hour. 

Your fundamental laws, as well as ours, suppose a 
monarchy. Your zeal, sir, in standing so firmly for it as 
you have done, shows not only a sacred respect for your 
honour and fidelity, but a well informed attachment to 
the real welfare and true liberties of your country. I have 
expressed myself ill, if I have given you cause to imagine 
that I prefer the conduct of those who have retired from 
this warfare to your behaviour, who, with a courage and 
constancy almost supernatural, have struggled against 
tyranny, and kept the field to the last. You see I have 
corrected the exceptionable part in the edition which I 
now send you. Indeed, in such terrible extremities as 
yours, it is not easy to say, in a political view, what line 
of conduct is the most advisable. In that state of things, 
I cannot bring myself severely to condemn persons who are 
wholly unable to bear so much as the sight of those men in 
the throne of legislation, who are only fit to be the objects 



272 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

of criminal justice. If fatigue, if disgust, if unsurrnount- 
able nausea drive them away from such spectacles, ubi 
miseriarum pars non minima erat, mdere et aspici, I can- 
not blame them. He must have a heart of adamant who 
could hear a set of traitors puffed up with unexpected and 
undeserved power, obtained by an ignoble, unmanly,^ and 
perfidious rebellion, treating 'their honest fellow-citizens 
as rebels, because they refused to Bind themselves, through 
their conscience, against the dictates of conscience itself, 
and had declined to swear an active compliance with their 
own ruin. How could a man of common flesh and blood 
endure that those, who but the other day had skulked 
unobserved in their antechambers, scornfully insulting 
men, illustrious in their rank, sacred in their function, and 
venerable in their character, now in decline of life, and 
swimming on the wrecks of their fortunes, that those 
miscreants should tell such men scornfully and outrage- 
ously, after they had robbed them of all their property, 
that it is more than enough if they are allowed what will 
keep them from absolute famine, and that for the rest, 
they must let their grey hairs fall over the plough, to make 
out a scanty subsistence, with the labour of their hands ! 
Last, and worst, who could endure to hear this unnatural, 
Insolent, and savage despotism called liberty? If, at this 
distance, sitting quietly by my fire, I cannot read their 
decrees and speeches without indignation, shall I condemn 
those who have fled from the actual sight and hearing of 
all these horrors? No, no! mankind has no title to 
demand that we should be slaves to their guilt and inso- 
lence ; or that we should serve them in spite of themselves. 
Minds, sore with the poignant sense of insulted virtue, 
filled with high disdain against the pride of triumphant 
baseness, often have it not in their choice to stand their 
ground. Their complexion (which might defy the rack) 
cannot go through such a trial. Something very high must 
fortify men to that proof. But when I am driven to com- 
parison, surely I cannot hesitate for a moment to prefer 
to such men as are common those heroes, who, in the 
midst of despair, perform all the tasks of hope; who 
subdue their feelings to their duties; who, in the cause 
of humanity, liberty, and honour, abandon all the satis- 
factions of life, and every day incur a fresh risk of life 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 273 

itself. Do me the justice to believe that I never can prefer 
any fastidious virtue (virtue still) to the unconquered per- 
severance, to the affectionate patience of those who watch 
day and night, by the bed-side of their delirious country, 
who, for their love to that dear and venerable name, bear 
all the disgusts, and all the buffets they receive from their 
frantic mother. Sir, I do look on you as true martyrs ; 
I regard you as soldiers who act far more in the spirit of 
our Commander-in-chief, and the Captain of our salvation, 
than those who have left you; though I must first bolt 
myself very thoroughly, and know that I could do better, 
before I can censure them. I assure you, sir, that, when 
I consider your unconquerable fidelity to your sovereign 
and to your country ; the courage, fortitude, magnanimity, 
and long suffering of yourself, and the Abb6 Maury, and 
of Mr. Cazales, and of many worthy persons of all orders, 
in your assembly, I forget, in the lustre of these great 
qualities, that on your side has been displayed an eloquence 
so rational, manly, and convincing, that no time or country, 
perhaps, has ever excelled. But your talents disappear in 
my admiration of your virtues. 

As to Mr. Mounier and Mr. Lally, I have always wished 
to do justice to their parts and their eloquence, and the 
general purity of their motives. Indeed I saw very well 
from the beginning, the mischiefs which, with all these 
talents and good intentions, they would do their country, 
through their confidence in systems. But their distemper 
was an epidemic malady. They were young and inexperi- 
enced; and when will young and inexperienced men learn 
caution and distrust of themselves? And when will men, 
young or old, if suddenly raised to far higher power than 
that which absolute kings and emperors commonly enjoy, 
learn anything like moderation? Monarchs, in general, 
respect some settled order of things, which they find it 
difficult to move from its basis, and to which they are 
obliged to conform, even when there are no positive limita- 
tions to their power. These gentlemen conceived that they 
were chosen to new-model the state, and even the whole 
order of society itself. No wonder that they entertained 
dangerous visions, when the king's ministers, trustees for 
the sacred deposit of the monarchy, were so infected with 
the contagion of project and system (I can hardly think 



274 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

it black premeditated treachery) that they publicly adver- 
tised for plans and schemes of government, as if they 
were to provide for the rebuilding of a hospital that had 
been burned down. What was this, but to unchain the 
fury of rash speculation amongst a people of itself but too 
apt to be guided by a heated imagination and a wild spirit 
of adventure? 

The fault of Mr. Mounier and Mr. Lally was very great ; 
but it was very general. If those gentlemen stopped when 
they came to the brink of the gulf of guilt and public 
misery, that yawned before them in the abyss of these dark 
and bottomless speculations, I forgive their first error ; in 
that they were involved with many. Their repentance was 
their own. 

They who consider Mounier and Lally as deserters, must 
regard themselves as murderers and as traitors; for from 
what else than murder and treason did they desert? For 
my part, I honour them for not having carried mistake 
into crime. If, indeed, I thought they were not cured by 
experience; that they were not made sensible that those 
'who would reform a state ought to assume some actual 
constitution of government which is to be reformed ; if 
they are not at length satisfied that it is become a necessary 
preliminary to liberty in France, to commence by the re- 
establishment of order and property of every kind, and, 
through the re-establishment of their monarchy, of every 
one of the old habitual distinctions and classes of the state ; 
if they do not see that these classes are not to be con- 
founded in order to be afterwards revived and separated ; if 
they are not convinced that the scheme of parochial and 
club governments takes up the state at the wrong end, and 
is a low and senseless contrivance (as making the sole con- 
stitution of a supreme power), I should then allow that 
their early rashness ought to be remembered to the last 
moment of their lives. 

You gently reprehend me, because, in holding out the 
picture of your disastrous situation, I suggest no plan for 
a remedy. Alas ! sir, the proposition of plans, without an 
attention to circumstances, is the very cause of all your 
misfortunes ; and never shall you find me aggravating, by 
the infusion of any speculations of mine, the evils which 
have arisen from the speculations of others. Your malady, 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 275 

in this respect, is a disorder of repletion. You seem to 
think that my keeping- back my poor ideas may arise from 
an indifference to the welfare of a foreign, and, sometimes, 
a hostile nation. No, sir, I faithfully assure you, my 
reserve is owing to no such causes. Is this letter, swelled 
to a second book, a mark of national antipathy, or even 
of national indifference? I should act altogether in the 
spirit of the same caution in a similar state of our own 
domestic affairs. If I were to venture any advice in any 
case it would be my best. The sacred duty of an adviser 
(one of the most inviolable that exists) would lead me, 
towards a real enemy, to act as if my best friend were the 
party concerned. But I dare not risk a speculation with no 
better view of your affairs than at present I can command ; 
my caution is not from disregard, but from solicitude for 
your welfare. It is suggested solely from my dread of 
becoming the author of inconsiderate counsel. 

It is not that, as this strange series of actions has 
passed before my eyes, I have not indulged my mind in 
a great variety of political speculations concerning them. 
But compelled by no such positive 'duty as does not permit 
me to evade an opinion : called upon by no ruling power, 
without authority as I am and without confidence, I should 
ill answer my own ideas of what would become myself, 
or what would be serviceable to others, if I were, as a 
volunteer, to obtrude any project of mine upon a nation, 
to whose circumstances I could not be sure it might be 
applicable. 

Permit me to say that, if I were as confident, as I ought 
to be diffident in my own loose, general ideas, I never 
should venture to broach them, if but at twenty leagues* 
distance from the centre of your affairs. I must see with 
my own eyes, I must, in a manner, touch with my own 
hands, not only the fixed, but the momentary circum- 
stances, before I could venture to suggest any political 
project whatsoever. I must know the power and disposi- 
tion to accept, to execute, to persevere* I must see all the 
aids and all the obstacles. I must see the means of 
correcting the plan, where correctives would be wanted. I 
must see the things; I must see the men. Without a 
concurrence and adaptation of these to the design, the 
very best speculative projects might become not only use- 



276 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

less but mischievous. Plans must be made for men. We 
cannot think of making men, and binding nature to our 
designs. People at a distance must judge ill of men. They 

do not always answer to their reputation when you 
approach them. Nay, the perspective varies, and shows 
them quite otherwise than you thought them. At a dis- 
tance, if we judge uncertainly of men 5 we must judge 
worse of opportunities, which continually vary their 
shapes and colours, and pass away like clouds. ^The 
eastern politicians never do anything without the opinion 
of the astrologers on the fortunate moment. They are in 
the right If they can do no better; for the opinion of 
fortune Is something towards commanding it. Statesmen 
of a more judicious prescience look for the fortunate 
moment too ; but they seek it, not In the conjunctions and 
oppositions of planets, but In the conjunctions and opposi- 
tions of men and things. These form their almanac, 

To Illustrate the mischief of a wise plan, without any 
attention to means and circumstances, it is not necessary 
to go farther than to your recent history. In the condition 
in which France was found three years ago, what better 
system could be proposed, what less, even savouring of 
wild theory, what fittter to provide for all the exigencies 
whilst it reformed all the abuses of government, than the 
convention of the states-general? I think nothing better 
could be imagined. But I have censured, and do still 
presume to censure your parliament of Paris for not 
having suggested to the king, that this proper measure 
was of all measures the most critical and arduous ; one in 
which the utmost circumspection and the greatest number 
of precautions were the most absolutely necessary. The 
very confession that a government wants either amend- 
ment in its conformation, or relief to great distress, causes 
It to lose half Its reputation, and as great a proportion of 
Its strength as depends upon that reputation. It was 
therefore necessary, first to put government out of danger, 
whilst at its own desire it suffered such an operation, as a 
general reform at the hands of those who were much more 
filled with a sense of the disease, than provided with 
rational means of a cure. 

It may be said that this care, and these precautions, 
were more naturally the duty of the king's ministers, than 



OP THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 277 

that of the parliament. They were so; but every man 
must answer in his estimation for the advice he gives, 
when he puts the conduct of his measure into hands who 
he does not know will execute his plans according to his 
ideas. Three or four ministers were not to be trusted with 
the being of the French monarchy of all the orders, and 
of all the distinctions, and all the property of the kingdom. 
What must be the prudence of those who could think, in 
the then known temper of the people of Paris, of 
assembling ^ the states at a place situated as Versailles? 

^The parliament^ of Paris did worse than to inspire this 
blind confidence into the king. For, as if names were 
things, they took no notice of (indeed they rather counte- 
nanced) the deviations which were manifest in the execu- 
tion, from the true ancient principles of the plan which 
they recommended. These deviations (as guardians of the 
ancient laws, usages, and constitution of the kingdom) the 
parliament of Paris ought not to have suffered, without the 
strongest remonstrances to the throne. It ought to have 
sounded the ^ alarm to the whole nation, as it had often 
done on things of infinitely less importance. Under 
pretence of resuscitating the ancient constitution, the par- 
liament saw one of the strongest acts of innovation, and 
the most leading in its consequences, carried into effect 
before their eyes; and an innovation through the medium 
of despotism; that is, they suffered the king's ministers 
to new-model the whole representation of the tiers Mat, 
and, in a great measure, that of the clergy too, and to 
destroy the ancient proportions of the orders. These 
changes, unquestionably, the king had no right to make ; 
and here the parliaments failed in their duty, and, along 
with their country, have perished by this failure. 

^What a number of faults have led to this multitude of 
misfortunes, and almost all from this one source, that 
of considering certain general maxims, without attending 
to circumstances, to times, to places, to conjunctures, and 
to actors; if we do not attend scrupulously to all these, 
the medicine of to-day becomes the poison of to-morrow. 
If any measure was in the abstract better than another, it 
was to call the states ea visa solus morientibus una. 
Certainly it had the appearance. But see the consequences 
of not attending to critical moments, of not regarding the 



278 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

symptoms which discriminate diseases, and which dis- 
tinguish constitutions, complexions, and humours : 

Mox erat hoc ipsum exitio; furiisque refecti, 
Ardebant; ipsique suos, jam morte sub segra, 

Discissos nudis laniabant dentibus artus. 

Thus the potion which was given to strengthen the con* 
stitution, to heal divisions, and to compose the minds of 
men, became the source of debility, frenzy, discord, and 
utter dissolution. 

In this, perhaps, I have answered, I think, another of 
your questions Whether the British constitution is 
adapted to your circumstances? When I praised the 
British constitution, and wished it to be well studied, I 
did not mean that its exterior form and positive arrange- 
ment should become a model for you, or for any people 
servilely to copy. I meant to recommend the principles 
from which It has grown, and the policy on which it has 
been progressively improved out of elements common to 
you and to us. I am sure it is no visionary theory of 
mine. It is not an advice that subjects you to the hazard of 
any experiment. I believed the ancient principles to be 
wise in all cases of a large empire that would be free. I 
thought you possessed our principles in your old forms, in 
as great a perfection as we did originally. If your states 
agreed (as I think they did) with your circumstances, they 
were best for you. As you had a constitution formed upon 
principles similar to ours, my idea was that you might 
have improved them as we have done, conforming them 
to the state and exigencies of the times, and the condition 
of property in your country; having the conservation of 
that property, and the substantial basis of your monarchy, 
as principal objects in all your reforms. 

I do not advise a House of Lords to you. Your ancient 
course by representatives of the noblesse (in your circum- 
stances) appears to me rather a better institution. I know 
that, ^with you, a set of men of rank have betrayed their 
constituents, their honour, their trust, their king, and their 
country, and levelled themselves with their footmen, that 
through this degradation they might afterwards put them- 
selves above their natural equals. Some of these persons 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 279 

have entertained a project that, in reward of this their black 
perfidy and corruption, they may be chosen to give rise to a 
new order, and to establish themselves into a House of 
Lords. Do you think that, under the name of a British con- 
stitution, I mean to recommend to you such lords, made of 
such kind of stuff? I do not, however, include in this 
description all of those who are fond of this scheme. 

If you were now to form such a House of Peers, it would 
bear, in my opinion, but little resemblance to ours in its 
origin, character, or the purposes which it might answer, 
at the same time that it would destroy your true natural 
nobility ; but if you are not in a condition to frame a House 
of Lords, still less are you capable, in my opinion, of 
framing anything which virtually and substantially could 
be answerable (for the purposes of a stable, regular govern- 
ment) to our House of Commons. That House is, within 
itself, a much more subtle and artificial combination of 
parts and powers, than people are generally aware of. 
What knits it to the other members of the constitution; 
what fits it to be at once the great support, and the great 
control of government; what makes it of such admirable 
service to that monarchy which, if it limits, it secures and 
strengthens, would require a long discourse, belonging 
to the leisure of a contemplative man, not to one whose 
duty it is to join in communicating practically to the people 
the blessings of such a constitution. 

Your tiers dtat was not in effect and substance a House 
of Commons. You stood in absolute need of something 
else to supply the manifest defects In such a body as your 
tiers 6tat. On a sober and dispassionate view of your old 
constitution, as connected with all the present circum- 
stances, I was fully persuaded, that the crown, standing 
as things have stood (and are likely to stand, if you are 
to have any monarchy at all) was and is incapable, alone 
and by itself, of holding a just balance between the two 
orders, and at the same time of effecting the interior and 
exterior purposes of a protecting government. I, whose 
leading principle it is, in a reformation of the state, to 
make use of existing materials, am of opinion that the 
representation of the clergy, as a separate order, was an 
institution which touched all the orders more nearly than 
any of them touched the other; that it was well fitted to 



280 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

connect them, and to hold a place in any wise, monarchical 
commonwealth. If I refer you to your original constitu- 
tion, and think it, as I do, substantially a good one, I do 
not amuse you in this, more than in other things, with any 
inventions of mine. A certain intemperance of intellect is 
the disease of the time, and the source of all its other 
diseases. I will keep myself as untainted by it as I can. 
Your architects build without a foundation. I would 
readily lend a helping hand to any superstructure, when 
once this is effectually secured but first I would say Sos 
TTCW <rr<S. 

You think, sir, and you might think rightly, upon the 
first view of the theory, that to provide for the exigencies 
of an empire, so situated and so related as that of France, 
its king ought to be invested with powers very much 
superior to those which the King^ of England possesses 
under the letter of our constitution. Every degree of 
power necessary to the state, and not destructive to the 
rational and moral freedom of individuals, to that personal 
liberty, and personal security, which contribute so much to 
the vigour, the prosperity, the happiness, and the dignity 
of a nation every degree of power which does not suppose 
the total absence of all control, and all responsibility on 
the part of ministers, a king of France, in common 
sense, ought to possess. But whether the exact measure 
of authority, assigned by the letter of the law to the King 
of Great Britain, can answer to the exterior or interior 
purposes of the French monarchy, is a point which I cannot 
venture to judge upon. Here, both in the power given, 
and its limitations, we have always cautiously felt our 
way. The parts of our constitution have gradually, and 
almost insensibly, in a long course of time, accommodated 
themselves to each other, and to their common, as well as 
to their separate purposes. But this adaptation of contend- 
ing parts, as it has not been in ours, so it can never be 
in yours, or in any country, the effect of a single instan- 
taneous regulation, and no sound heads could ever think 
of doing it in that manner. 

1 believe, sir, that many on the Continent altogether 
mistake the condition of a king of Great Britain. He is a 
real king and not an executive officer. If he will not 
trouble himself with contemptible details, nor wish to 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 281 

degrade himself by becoming a party in little squabbles, 
I am far from sure that a king of Great Britain, in what- 
ever concerns him as a king, or indeed as a. rational man, 
who combines his public interest with his personal satis- 
faction, does not possess a more real, solid, extensive 
power, than the King of France was possessed of before 
this miserable revolution. The direct power of the King 
of England is considerable. His indirect, and far more 
certain power, is great indeed. He stands in need of 
nothing towards dignity; of nothing towards splendour; 
of nothing towards authority; of nothing at all towards 
consideration abroad. When was it that a king of England 
wanted wherewithal to make him respected, courted, or 
perhaps even feared In every state of Europe ? 

I am constantly of opinion that your states, in three 
orders, on the footing on which they stood in 1614, were 
capable of being brought Into a proper and harmonious 
combination with royal authority. This constitution by 
estates, was the natural and only just representation of 
France. It grew out of the habitual conditions, relations, 
and reciprocal claims of men. It grew out of the circum- 
stances of the country, and out of the state of property. 
The wretched scheme of your present masters is not to 
fit the constitution to the people, but wholly to destroy 
conditions, to dissolve relations, to change the state of the 
nation, and to subvert property, in order to fit their 
country to their theory of a constitution. 

Until you make out practically that great work, a com- 
bination of opposing forces, "a work of labour long, and 
endless praise," the utmost caution ought to have been 
used in the reduction of the royal power, which alone was 
capable of holding together the comparatively heterogene- 
ous mass of your states. But, at this day, all these 
considerations are unseasonable. To what end should we 
discuss the limitations of royal power? Your king is In 
prison. Why speculate on the measure and standard of 
liberty? I doubt much, very much, indeed, whether 
France is at all ripe for liberty on any standard. Men 
are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their 
disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites ; 
in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity ; 
in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of under- 



282 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

standing" is above their vanity and presumption ; in pro- 
portion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels 
of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of 
knaves. Society cannot exist unless a controlling" power 
upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less 
of it there is within, the more there must be without. It 
is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men 
of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge 
their fetters. 

This sentence the prevalent part of your countrymen 
execute on themselves. They possessed not long since, 
what was next to freedom, a mild paternal monarchy. 
They despised it for its weakness. They were offered a 
well-poised, free constitution. It did not suit their taste 
nor their temper. They carved for themselves ; they flew 
out, murdered, robbed, and rebelled. They have suc- 
ceeded, and put over their country an insolent tyranny 
made up of cruel and inexorable masters, and that too of a 
description hitherto not known in the world. The powers 
and policies by which they have succeeded are not those 
of great statesmen, or great military commanders, but the 
practices of incendiaries, assassins, housebreakers, robbers, 
spreaders of false news, forgers of false orders from 
authority, and other delinquencies, of which ordinary 
justice takes cognizance. Accordingly the spirit of their 
rule is exactly correspondent to the means by which they 
obtained it. They act more in the manner of thieves who 
have got possession of a house, than of conquerors who 
have subdued a nation. 

Opposed to these, in appearance, but in appearance 
only, is another band, who call themselves the moderate. 
These, if I conceive rightly of their conduct, are a set of 
men who approve heartily of the whole new constitution, 
but wish to lay heavily on the most atrocious of those 
crimes, by which this fine constitution of theirs has been 
obtained. They are a sort of people who affect to proceed 
as if they thought that men may deceive without fraud, 
rob without injustice, and overturn everything without 
violence. They are men who would usurp the government 
of their country with decency and moderation. In fact, 
they are nothing more or better, than men engaged in 
desperate designs, with feeble minds. They are not 



OF THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY 283 

honest ; they are only Ineffectual and unsystematic In their 
iniquity. They are persons who want not the dispositions, 
but the energy and vigour, that is necessary for great evil 
machinations. They find that in such designs they fall at 
best into a secondary rank, and others take the place and 
lead in usurpation, which they are not qualified to obtain 
or to hold. They envy to their companions the natural 
fruit of their crimes ; they join to run them down with the 
hue and cry of mankind, which pursues their common 
offences; and then hope to mount into their places on the 
credit of the sobriety with which they show themselves 
disposed to carry on what may seem most plausible in the 
mischievous projects they pursue in common. But, these 
men are naturally despised by those who have heads to 
know, and hearts that are able to go through the necessary 
demands of bold wicked enterprises. They are naturally 
classed below the latter description, and will only be used 
by them as inferior instruments. They will be only the 
Fairfaxes of your Crornwells. If they mean honestly, why 
do they not strengthen the arms of honest men, to support 
their ancient, legal, wise, and free government, given to 
them in the spring of 1788, against the inventions of craft, 
and the theories of ignorance and folly? If they do not, 
they must continue the scorn of both parties ; sometimes 
the tool, sometimes the incumbrance of that whose views 
they approve, whose conduct they decry. These people are 
only made to be the sport of tyrants. They never can 
obtain or communicate freedom. 

You ask me, too, whether we have a committee of 
research. No, sir, God forbid ! It is the necessary 
instrument of tyranny and usurpation ; and, therefore, I 
do not wonder that it has had an early establishment under 
your present lords. We do not want it. 

Excuse my length. I have been somewhat occupied 
since I was honoured with your letter; and I should not 
have been able to answer it at all, but for the holidays, 
which have given me means of enjoying the leisure of the 
country. I am called to duties which I am neither able 
nor willing to evade. I must soon return to my old 
conflict with the corruptions and oppressions which have 
prevailed in our eastern dominions* I must turn myself 
wholly from those of France. 



284 LETTER TO A MEMBER 

In England we cannot work so hard as Frenchmen. 
Frequent relaxation is necessary to us. You are naturally 
more intense in your application, I did not know this 
part of your national character, until I went into France 
in 1773. At present, this your disposition to labour is 
rather increased than lessened. In your assembly you do 
not allow yourselves a recess even on Sundays. We have 
two days in the week, besides the festivals; and besides 
five or six months of the summer and autumn. This con- 
tinued, unr emitted effort of the members of your assembly, 
I take to be one among 1 the causes of the mischief they 
have done. They who always labour can have no true 
judgment. You never give yourselves time to cooL You 
can never survey, from its proper point of sight, the work 
you have finished, before you decree its final execution. 
You can never plan the future by the past. You never go 
into the country, soberly and dispassionately to observe 
the effect of your measures on their objects. You cannot 
feel distinctly how far the people are rendered better and 
improved, or more miserable and depraved, by what you 
have done. You cannot see with your own eyes the suffer- 
ings and afflictions you cause. You know them but at a 
distance, on the statements of those who always natter the 
reigning power, and who, amidst their representations of 
the grievances, inflame your minds against those who are 
oppressed. These are amongst the effects of unremitted 
labour, when men exhaust their attention, burn out their 
candles, and are left in the dark. Malo meorum negli- 
gentiam, quam istorum obscuram diligentiam. 

I have the honour, &c. 
(Signed) EDMUND BURKE. 

Beaconsfield, January 19, 1791, 



THOUGHTS 

ON 

FRENCH AFFAIRS 

ETC., ETC. 

WRITTEN IN DECEMBER 
1791 

IN all our transactions with France, and at all periods, 
we have treated with that state on the footing of a 
monarchy. Monarchy was considered in all the external 
relations of that kingdom with every power in Europe as 
its legal and constitutional government, and that In which 
alone its federal capacity was vested. 

It is not yet a year since Monsieur de Montmorin 
formally, and with as little respect as can be imagined to 
the king, and to all crowned heads, announced a total 
revolution in that country. He has informed the British 
ministry, that its frame of government Is wholly altered; 
that he is one of the ministers of the new system ; and, in 
effect, that the king Is no longer his master (nor does he 
even call him such) but the "first of the ministers," in the 
new system. 

The second notification was that of the king's accept- 
ance of the new constitution; accompanied with fanfaron- 
ades in the modern style of the French bureaus ; things 
which have much more the air and character of the saucy 
declamations of their clubs, than the tone of regular office. 

It has not been very usual to notify to foreign courts 
anything concerning the internal arrangements of any 
state. In the present case, the circumstances of these two 
notifications, with the observations with which they are 
attended, does not leave it in the choice of the sovereigns 
of Christendom to appear ignorant either of this French 
revolution, or (what is more important) of its principles. 



286 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

We know that, very soon after this manifesto of Mon- 
sieur de Montmorin, the King of France, in whose name it 
was made, found himself obliged to fly, with his whole 
family; leaving behind him a declaration, in which he 

disavows and annuls that constitution, as having been the 
effect of force on his person and usurpation on his 
authority. It is equally notorious that this unfortunate 
prince was, with many circumstances of insult and out- 
rage, brought back prisoner, by a deputation of the 
pretended National Assembly, and afterwards suspended 
by their authority, from his government. Under equally 
notorious constraint, and under menaces of total deposi- 
tion, he has been compelled to accept what they call a 
constitution, and to agree to whatever else the usurped 
power, which holds him in confinement, thinks proper to 
impose. 

His nest brother, who had fled with him, and his third 
brother, who had fled before him, all the princes of his 
blood who remained faithful to him, and the flower of his 
magistracy, his clergy, and his nobility, continue in foreign 
countries, protesting against all acts done by him in his 
present situation, on the grounds upon which he had him- 
self protested against them at the time of his flight; with 
this addition, that they deny his very competence, (as on 
good grounds they may,) to abrogate the royalty, or the 
ancient constitutional orders of the kingdom. In this 
protest they are joined by three hundred of the late 
assembly itself, and, in effect, by a great part of the 
French nation. The new government (so far as the people 
dare to disclose their sentiments) is disdained, I am per- 
suaded, by the greater number; who, as M. de la Fayette 
complains, and as the truth is, have declined to take any 
share in the new elections to the National Assembly, either 
as candidates or electors. 

In this state of things (that is, in the case of a divided 
kingdom) * by the law of nations, Great Britain, like every 
other power, is free to take any part she pleases. She 
may decline, with more or less formality, according to 
her discretion, to acknowledge this new system ; or she 
may ^recognize it as a government de facto, setting aside 
all discussion of its original legality, and considering the 
1 See Vattel, b. ii c. 4, sect. 56, and b. iii. c. 18. sect. 296. 



BRITAIN, MAY INTERVENE 287 

ancient monarchy as at an end. The law of nations leaves 
our court open to its choice. We have no direction but 
what is found in the well understood policy of the king 1 
and kingdom. 

This declaration of a new species of government, on new 
principles (such it professes itself to be), is a real crisis 
in the politics of Europe. The conduct, which prudence 
ought to dictate to Great Britain, will not depend (as 
hitherto our connexion or quarrel with other states has for 
some time depended) upon merely external relations ; but 
in a great measure also upon the system which we may 
think it right to adopt for the internal government of our 
own country. 

If It be our policy to assimilate our government to that 
of France, we ought to prepare for this change, by 
encouraging the schemes of authority established there. 
We ought to wink at the captivity and deposition of a 
prince, with whom, if not in close alliance, we were in 
friendship. We ought to fall in with the ideas of MOBS. 
Montmorin's circular manifesto; and to do business of 
course with the functionaries who act under the new power, 
by which that king, to whom his majesty's minister has 
been sent to reside, has been deposed and imprisoned. On 
that idea we ought also to withhold all sorts of direct or 
indirect countenance from those who are treating in Ger- 
many for the re-establishment of the French monarchy and 
of the ancient orders of that state. This conduct is suitable 
to this policy. 

The question is, whether this policy be suitable to the 
interests of the crown and subjects of Great Britain. Let 
us, therefore, a little consider the true nature and probable 
effects of the revolution which, in such a very unusual 
manner, has been twice diplomatically announced to his 
majesty. 

There have been many internal revolutions in the govern- 
ment of countries, both as to persons and forms, in which 
the neighbouring states have had little or no concern. 
Whatever the government might be with respect to those 
persons and those forms, the stationary interests of the 
nation concerned have most commonly influenced the new 
governments in the same manner in which they influenced 
the old; and the revolution, turning on matter of local 



288 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

grievance, or of local accommodation, did not extend 
beyond its territory. 

The present revolution in France seems to me to be 
quite of another character and description ; and to bear 
little resemblance or analogy to any of those which have 
been brought about in Europe, upon principles merely 
political. It is a revolution of doctrine and theoretic 
dogma. It has a much greater resemblance to those 
changes which have been made upon religious grounds 
in which a spirit of proselytisrn makes an essential 
part. 

The last revolution of doctrine and theory which has 
happened in Europe is the Reformation. It is not for 
my purpose to take any notice here of the merits of that 
revolution, but to state one only of its effects. 

That effect was to introduce other interests into all 
countries than those which arose from their locality and 
natural circumstances. The principle of the Reformation 
was such as, by its essence, could not be local or confined 
to the country in which it had its origin. For instance, 
the doctrine of "justification by faith or by works/' 
which was the original basis of the Reformation, could 
not have one of its alternatives true as to Germany, and 
false as to every other country. Neither are questions 
of theoretic truth and falsehood governed by circum- 
stances any more than by places. On that occasion, 
therefore, the spirit of proselytism expanded itself with 
great elasticity upon all sides: and great divisions were 
everywhere the result. 

These divisions, however, in appearance merely dog- 
matic, soon became mixed with the political; and their 
effects were rendered much more intense from this com- 
bination, Europe was for a long time divided into two 
great factions, under the name of Catholic and Protestant, 
which not only often alienated state from state, but also 
divided almost every state within itself. The warm parties 
in each state were more affectionately attached to those of 
their own doctrinal interest in some other country, than to 
their fellow-citizens, or to their natural government, when 
they or either of them happened to be of a different persua- 
sion. These factions, wherever they prevailed, if they did 
not absolutely destroy, at least weakened and distracted 



PRINCIPLES OF THE REFORMATION 289 

the locality of patriotism. The public affections came to 
have other motives and other ties. 

It would be to repeat the history of the two last centuries 
to exemplify the effects of this revolution. 

Although the principles to which it gave rise did not 
operate with a perfect regularity and constancy, they never 
wholly ceased to operate. Few wars were made, and few 
treaties were entered into, in which they did not come in 
for some part. They gave a colour, a character, and 
direction, to all the politics of Europe. 

These principles of internal as well as external division 
and coalition are but just now extinguished. But they, 
who will examine into the true character and genius of 
some late events, must be satisfied that other sources of 
faction, combining parties among the inhabitants of 
different countries into one connexion, are opened, and 
that from these sources are likely to arise effects full as 
important as those which had formerly arisen from the 
jarring interests of the religious sects. The intention of 
the several actors in the change in France is not a matter 
of doubt. It is very openly professed. 

In the modem world, before this time, there has been 
no instance of this spirit of general political faction, separ- 
ated from religion, pervading several countries, and form- 
ing a principle of union between the partisans in each. 
But the thing is not less in human nature. The ancient 
world has furnished a strong and striking instance of such 
a ground for faction, full as powerful and full as mischiev- 
ous as our spirit of religious system had ever been ; excit- 
ing In all the states of Greece (European and Asiatic) the 
most violent animosities, and the most cruel and bloody 
persecutions and proscriptions. These ancient factions in 
each commonwealth of Greece connected themselves with 
those of the same description in some other states; and 
secret cabals and public alliances were carried on and 
made, not upon a conformity of general political interests, 
but for the support and aggrandizement of the two leading 
states which headed the aristocratic and democratic 
factions. For, as in latter times, the King of Spain was at 
the head of a Catholic, and the King of Sweden of a 
Protestant interest, (France, though Catholic, acting sub- 
ordinately to the latter,) in the like manner the Lace- 



2 9 o THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

demonians were everywhere at the head of the aristocratic 
interests, and the Athenians of the democratic. The two 
leading" powers kept alive a constant cabal and conspiracy 
in every state, and the political dogmas concerning the 
constitution of a republic were the great instruments by 
which these leading states chose to aggrandize themselves. 
Their choice was not unwise; because the interest in 
opinions (merely as opinions, and without any experimental 
reference to their effects) when once they take strong hold 
of the mind, become the most operative of all interests, 
and indeed very often supersede every other. 

I might further exemplify the possibility of a political 
sentiment running through various states, and combining 
factions in them, from the history of the middle ages in the 
Guelfs and Ghibellmes. These were political factions 
originally in favour of the emperor and the pope, with no 
mixture of religious dogmas : or if anything religiously doc- 
trinal they had in them originally, it very soon disappeared ; 
as their first political objects disappeared also, though the 
spirit remained. They became no more than names to 
distinguish factions : but they were not the less powerful 
in their operation, when they had no direct point of 
doctrine, eithei religious or civil, to assert. For a long 
time, however, those factions gave no small degree of 
influence to the foreign chiefs in every commonwealth in 
which they existed. I do not mean to pursue further the 
track of these parties, I allude to this part of history only, 
as it furnishes an Instance of that species of faction which 
broke the locality of public affections, and united descrip- 
tions of citizens more with strangers than with their 
countrymen of different opinions. 

The political dogma, which, upon the new French system 
is to unite the factions of different nations, is this, "That 
the majority, told by the head, of the taxable people in 
every country, is the perpetual, natural, unceasing, inde- 
feasible sovereign ; that this majority is perfectly master 
of the form, as well as the administration, of the state, 
and that the magistrates, under whatever names they are 
called, are only functionaries to obey the orders (general 
as laws or particular as decrees) which that majority may 
make; that this is the only natural government; that all 
others are tyranny and usurpation/' 



REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT 291 

In order to reduce this dogma into practice, the repub- 
licans in France, and their associates in other countries, 
make it always their business, and often their public 
profession, to destroy all traces of ancient establishments, 
and to form a new commonwealth in each country, upon 
the basis of the French Rights of Men. On the principle 
of these rights, they mean to institute in every country, 
and, as it were, the germ of the whole, parochial govern- 
ments, for the purpose of what they call equal representa- 
tion. From them is to grow, by some media, a general 
council and representative of all the parochial govern- 
ments. In that representative is to be vested the whole 
national power; totally abolishing hereditary name and 
office, levelling all conditions of men (except where money 
must make a difference), breaking all connexion between 
territory and dignity, and abolishing every species of 
nobility, gentry, and church establishments ; all their 
priests, and all their magistrates, being only creatures of 
election, and pensioners at will. 

Knowing how opposite a permanent landed interest is to 
that scheme, they have resolved, and it is the great drift 
of their regulations, to reduce that description of men to 
mere peasantry for the sustenance of the towns, and to 
place the true effective government in cities, among the 
tradesmen, bankers, and voluntary clubs of bold, presum- 
ing young persons ; advocates, attorneys, notaries, 
managers of newspapers, and those cabals of literary men, 
called academies. Their republic is to have a first func- 
tionary, (as they call him,) under the name of king, or not, 
as they think fit. This officer, when such an officer is 
permitted, is, however, neither in fact nor name, to be 
considered a sovereign, nor the people as his subjects. The 
very use of these appellations is offensive to their ears. 

This system, as it has first been realized, dogmatically, 
as well as practically, in France, makes France the natural 
head of all factions formed on a similar principle, wherever 
they may prevail, as much as Athens was the head and 
settled ally of all democratic factions, wherever they 
existed. The other system has no head. 

This system has very many partisans in every country in 
Europe, but particularly in England, where they are 
already formed into a body, comprehending most of the 



J292 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

dissenters of the three leading- denominations; to these 
are readily aggregated all who are dissenters in character, 
temper," and disposition, though not belonging to any of 
their congregations that is, all the restless people who 
resemble them, of all ranks and all parties Whigs, and 
even Tories the whole race of half-bred speculators ; all 
the Atheists, Deists, and Socinians; all those who hate 
the clergy, and envy the nobility; a good many among 
the monied people; the East Indians almost to a man, 
who cannot bear to find that their present Importance does 
not bear a proportion to their wealth. These latter have 
united themselves into one great, and, in my opinion, 
formidable club, 1 which, though now quiet, may be 
brought into action with considerable unanimity and force. 

Formerly few, except the ambitious great, or the des- 
perate and indigent, were to be feared as instruments in 
revolutions. What has happened In France teaches us, 
with many other things, that there are more causes than 
have commonly been taken into our consideration, by 
which government may be subverted. The monied men, 
merchants, principal tradesmen, and men of letters 
(hitherto generally thought the peaceable and even timid 
part of society), are the chief actors in the French revolu- 
tion. But the fact is, that as money increases and circu- 
lates, and as the circulation of news, in politics and letters, 
becomes more and more diffused, the persons who diffuse 
this money, and this intelligence, become more and more 
important. This was not long undiscovered. Views of 
ambition were in France, for the first time, presented to 
these classes of men. Objects In the state, in the army, in 
the system of civil offices of every kind. Their eyes were 
dazzled \vith this new prospect. They were, as it were, 
electrified and made to lose the natural spirit of their situa- 
tion. A bribe, great without example in the history of the 
world, was held out to them the whole government of 
a very large kingdom. 

There are several who are persuaded that the same thing 
cannot happen in England, because here (they say) the 
occupations of merchants, tradesmen, and manufacturers, 

1 Originally called the Bengal Club ; but since opened to persons 
from the other presidencies, for the purpose of consolidating- the 
whole Indian interest 



HALF-BRED SPECULATORS 293 

are not held as degrading situations. I once thought that 
the low estimation in which commerce was held in France 
might be reckoned among the causes of the late revolution ; 
and I am still of opinion, that the exclusive spirit of the 
French nobility did irritate the wealthy of other classes. 
But I found long since, that persons in trade and business 
were by no means despised in France in the manner I had 
been taught to believe. As to men of letters, they were so 
far from being despised or neglected, that there was no 
country, perhaps, in the universe, in which they were so 
highly esteemed, courted, caressed, and even feared : 
tradesmen naturally were not so much sought in society 
(as not furnishing so largely to the fund of conversation 
as they do to the revenues of the state), but the latter 
description got forward every day. M. Bailly, who made 
himself the popular mayor on the rebellion of the Bastile, 
and is a principal actor in the revolt, before the change 
possessed a pension or office under the crown of six 
hundred pounds English a year; for that country, no con- 
temptible provision : and this he obtained solely as a man 
of letters, and on no other title. As to the monied men 
whilst the monarchy continued, there is no doubt, that 
merely as such, they did not enjoy the privileges of 
nobility; but nobility was of so easy an acquisition, that 
it was the fault or neglect of all of that description, who 
did not obtain its privileges, for their lives at least, in 
virtue of office. It attached under the royal government 
to an innumerable multitude of places, real and nominal, 
that were vendible; and such nobility were as capable of 
everything as their degree of influence or interest could 
make them, that is, as nobility of no considerable rank or 
consequence. M. Necker, so far from being a French 
gentleman, was not so much as a Frenchman born, and yet 
we all know the rank in which he stood on the day of the 
meeting of the states. 

As to the mere matter of estimation of the mercantile 
or any other class, this is regulated by opinion and preju- 
dice. In England, a security against the envy of men in 
these classes is not so very complete as we may imagine. 
We must not impose upon ourselves. What institutions 
and manners together had done in France, manners alone 
do here. It is the natural operation of things where there 



294 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

exists a crown, a court, splendid orders of knighthood, and 
an hereditary nobility; where there exists a fixed, per- 
manent, landed gentry, continued in greatness and 

opulence by the law of primogeniture, and by a protection 
given to family settlements ; where there exists a stand- 
ing army and navy ; where there exists a church estab- 
lishment, which bestows on learning and parts an interest 
combined with that of religion and the state ; in a country 
where such things exist, wealth, new in its acquisition, 
and precarious in its duration, can never rank first, or 
even near the first; though wealth has its natural weight 
further than as it is balanced and even preponderated 
amongst us as amongst other nations, by artificial institu- 
tions and opinions growing out of them. At no period in 
the history of England have so few peers been taken out 
of trade or from families newly created by commerce. In 
no period has so small a number of noble families entered 
into the counting-house. I can call to mind but one in all 
England, and his is of near fifty years' standing. Be that 
as it may, it appears plain to me, from my best observation, 
that envy and ambition may, by art, management, and 
disposition, be as much excited amongst these descriptions 
of men in England, as in any other country ; and that they 
are just as capable of acting a part in any great change. 

What direction the French spirit of proselytism is likely 
to take, and in what order it is likely to prevail in the 
several parts of Europe, it is not easy to determine. 

The seeds are sown almost everywhere, chiefly by news- 
paper circulations, infinitely more efficacious and extensive 
than ever they were. And they are a more important 
instrument than generally is imagined. They are a part of 
the reading of all, they are the whole of the reading of the 
far greater number. There are thirty of them in Paris 
alone. The language diffuses them more widely than the 
English, though the English too are much read. The 
writers of these papers, indeed, for the greater part, are 
either unknown or in contempt, but they are like a battery 
in which the stroke of any one ball produces no great 
effect, but the amount of continual repetition is decisive. 
Let us only suffer any person to tell us his story, morning 
and evening, but for one twelvemonth, and he will become 
our master. 



SPREAD OF DANGEROUS OPINIONS 295 

All those countries In which several states are compre- 
hended under some general geographical description, and 
loosely united by some federal constitution; countries of 
which the members are small, and greatly diversified in 
their forms of government, and in the titles by which they 
are held these countries, as it might be well expected, are 
the principal objects of their hopes and machinations. Of 
these, the chief are Germany and Switzerland : after them, 
Italy has its place, as in circumstances somewhat similar. 

As to Germany, (in which, from their relation to the 
emperor, I comprehended the Belgic provinces,) it appears 
to me to be from several circumstances, internal and 
external, in a very critical situation, and the laws and 
liberties of the empire are by no means secure from the 
contagion of the French doctrines, and the effect of French 
intrigues ; or from the use which two of the greater German 
powers may make of a general derangement, to the general 
detriment. I do not say that the French do not mean to 
bestow on these German states liberties, and laws too, 
after their mode; but those are not what have hitherto 
been understood as the laws and liberties of the empire. 
These exist and have always existed under the principles 
of feudal tenure and succession, under imperial constitu- 
tions, grants and concessions of sovereigns, family com- 
pacts, and public treaties, made under the sanction, and 
some of them guaranteed by the sovereign powers of other 
nations, and particularly the old government of France, 
the author and natural support of the treaty of Westphalia. 

In short, the Germanic body is a vast mass of hetero- 
geneous states, held together by that heterogeneous body 
of old principles, which formed the public law positive and 
doctrinal. The modern laws and liberties, which the new 
power in France proposes to introduce into Germany, and 
to support with all its force, of intrigue and of arms, Is of 
a very different nature, utterly irreconcilable with the first, 
and indeed fundamentally the reverse of it : I mean the 
rights and liberties of ihe man, the droit de I'homme. 
That this doctrine has made an amazing progress in Ger- 
many there cannot be a shadow of doubt. They are 
infected by it along the whole course of the Rhine, the 
Maese, the Moselle, and in the greater part of Suabia and 
Franconia. It is particularly prevalent amongst all the 



296 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

lower people, churchmen, and laity, IE the dominions of 
the ecclesiastical electors. It is not easy to find or to con- 
ceive governments more mild and indulgent than these 
church sovereignties ; but good government is as nothing 

when the rights of man take possession of the mind. 
Indeed, the loose rein held over the people in these 
provinces must be considered as one cause of the facility 
with which they lend themselves to any schemes of innova- 
tion, by inducing them to think lightly of their govern- 
ments, and to judge of grievances, not by feeling, but by 
imagination. 

It is in these electorates that the first impressions of 
France are likely to be made, and if they succeed, it is 
over with the Germanic body as it stands at present. A 
great revolution is preparing in Germany ; and a revolu- 
tion, in my opinion, likely to be more decisive upon the 
general fate of nations than that of France itself; other 
than as in France is to be found the first source of all the 
principles which are in any way likely to distinguish the 
troubles and convulsions of our age. If Europe does not 
conceive the independence, and the equilibrium of the 
empire to be in the very essence of the system of balanced 
power in Europe, and if the scheme of public law, or mass 
of laws, upon which that independence and equilibrium 
are founded, be of no leading consequence as they are 
preserved or destroyed, all the politics of Europe for more 
than two centuries have been miserably erroneous. 

If the two great leading powers of Germany do not 
regard this danger (as apparently they do not) in the light 
in which it presents itself so naturally ? it is because they 
are powers too great to have a social interest. That sort 
of interest belongs only to those whose state of weakness 
or mediocrity is such as to give them greater cause of 
apprehension from what may destroy them, than of hope 
from any thing by which they may be aggrandized. 

As long as those two princes are at variance, so long- 
the liberties of Germany are safe. But, if ever they 
should so far understand one another, as to be persuaded 
that they have a more direct and more certainly defined 
interest in a proportioned, mutual aggrandizement, than 
in a reciprocal reduction, that is, if they come to think 
that they are more likely to be enriched by a division of 



EUROPEAN ALLIANCES DISTURBED 297 

spoil, than to be rendered secure by keeping- to the old 
policy of preventing others from being spoiled by either of 
them, from that moment the liberties of Germany are no 
more. 

That a junction of two in such a scheme is neither 
impossible nor improbable, is evident from the partition 
of Poland in 1773, which was effected by such a junction 
as made the interposition of other nations to prevent it, not 
easy. Their circumstances at that time hindered any other 
three states, or indeed any two, from taking measures 
in common to prevent it, though France was at that time 
an existing power, and had not yet learned to act upon a 
system of politics of her own invention. The geographical 
position of Poland was a great obstacle to any movements 
of France in opposition to this, at that time, unparalleled 
league. To my certain knowledge, if Great Britain had at 
that time been willing to concur in preventing the execu- 
tion of a project so dangerous in the example, even 
exhausted as France then was by the preceding war, and 
under a lazy and unenterprisng prince, she would have at 
every risk taken an active part in this business. But a 
languor with regard to so remote an interest, and the 
principles and passions which were then strongly at work 
at home, were the causes why Great Britain would not 
give France any encouragement in such an enterprise. At 
that time, however, and with regard to that object, in 
my opinion, Great Britain and France had a common 
interest. 

But the position of Germany is not like that of Poland, 
with regard to France, either for good or for evil. If a 
conjunction between Prussia and the emperor should be 
formed for the purpose of secularizing and rendering 
hereditary the ecclesiastical electorates and the bishopric 
of Munster, for settling two of them on the children of the 
emperor, and uniting Cologne and Munster to the 
dominions of the King of Prussia on the Rhine, or if any 
other project of mutual aggrandizement should be in 
prospect, and that, to facilitate such a scheme, the modern 
French should be permitted and encouraged to shake the 
internal and external security of these -ecclesiastical elec- 
torates, Great Britain is so situated, that she could not 
with any effect set herself in opposition to such a -design. 



298 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

Her principal arm, her marine, could here be of no sort 
of use. 

France, the author of the treaty of Westphalia, is the 
natural guardian of the independence and balance of 
Germany. Great Britain (to say nothing- of the^ king's 
concern as one of that august body) has a serious interest 
in preserving it ; but, except through the power of France, 
acting upon the common old principles of state policy, in 
the case we have supposed, she has no sort of means of 
supporting that interest. It is always the interest of Great 
Britain that the power of France should be kept within 
the bounds of moderation. It is not her interest that that 
power should be wholly annihilated in the system of 
Europe. Though at one time through France the inde- 
pendence of Europe was endangered, it is, and ever was, 
through her alone that the common liberty of Germany can 
be secured against the single or the combined ambition of 
any other power. In truth, within this century the 
aggrandizement of other sovereign houses has been such 
that there has been a great change in the whole state of 
Europe ; and other nations as well as France may become 
objects of jealousy and apprehension. 

In this state of things, a new principle of alliances and 
wars is opened. The treaty of Westphalia is, with France, 
an antiquated fable. The rights and liberties she was 
bound to maintain are now a system of wrong and tyranny 
which she is bound to destroy. Her good and ill disposi- 
tions are shown by the same means. To communicate 
peaceably the rights of men is the true mode of her show- 
ing her friendship; to force sovereigns to submit to those 
rights is her mode of hostility. So that either as friend or 
foe her whole scheme has been, and is, to throw the empire 
into confusion; and those statesmen, who follow the old 
routine of politics, may see, in this general confusion, and 
in the danger of the lesser princes, an occasion, as pro- 
tectors or enemies, of connecting their territories to one or 
the other of the two great German powers. They do not 
take into consideration that the means which they 
encourage, as leading to the event they desire 2 will with 
certainty not only ravage and destroy the empire, but, 
if they should for a moment seem to aggrandize the two 
great houses, will also establish principles, and confirm 



DESIGNS ON SWITZERLAND 299 

tempers amongst the people, which will preclude the two 
sovereigns from the possibility of holding what they 
acquire, or even the dominions which they have inherited. 
It is on the side of the ecclesiastical electorates that the 
dykes, raised to support the German liberty, first will give 
way. 

The French have begun their general operations by seiz- 
ing^ upon those territories of the pope, the situation of 
which was the most inviting to the enterprise. Their 
method of doing it was by exciting sedition and spreading 
massacre and desolation through these unfortunate places, 
and then, under an idea of kindness and protection, bring- 
ing forward an antiquated title of the crown oi France* 
and annexing Avignon and the two cities of the Comtat, 
with their territory, to the French republic. They have 
made an attempt on Geneva, in which they very narrowly 
failed of success. It is known that they hold out from time 
to time the idea of uniting all the other provinces of which 
Gaul was anciently composed, including Savoy on the 
other side, and on this side bounding themselves by the 
Rhine. 

As to Switzerland, it is a country whose long union, rather 
than its possible division, is the matter of wonder. Here I 
know they entertain very sanguine hopes. The aggregation 
to France of the democratic Swiss republics appears to them 
to be a work half done by their very form ; and it might 
seem to them rather an increase of importance to these 
little commonwealths, than a derogation from their inde- 
pendency, or a change in the manner of their government. 
Upon any quarrel amongst the cantons, nothing is more 
likely than such an event. As to the aristocratic republics, 
the general clamour and hatred which the French excite 
against the very name, (and with more facility and success 
than against monarchs,) and the utter impossibility of 
their government making any sort of resistance against 
an insurrection, where they have no troops, and the people 
are all armed and trained, render their hopes, in that 
quarter, far indeed from unfounded. It is certain that the 
republic of Berne thinks itself obliged to a vigilance next 
to hostile, and to imprison or expel all the French whom it 
finds in its territories. But, indeed, those aristocracies, 
which comprehend whatever is considerable, wealthy, and 



300 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

valuable, In Switzerland, do now so wholly depend upon 
opinion, and the humour of their multitude, that the 
lightest puff of wind is sufficient to blow them down. If 
France, under its ancient regimen, and upon the ancient 
principles of policy, was the support of the Germanic con- 
stitution, it was much more so of that of Switzerland, 
which almost from the very origin of that confederacy 
rested upon the closeness of its connexion with France, 
on which the Swiss Cantons wholly reposed themselves for 
the preservation of the parts of their body in their 
respective rights and permanent forms, as well as for the 
maintenance of all in their general independency. 

Switzerland and Germany are the first objects of the new 
French politicians. When I contemplate what they have 
done at home, which is, in effect, little less than an amazing 
conquest wrought by a change of opinion, in a great part 
(to be sure far from altogether) very sudden, I cannot help 
letting my thoughts run along with their designs, and, 
without attending to geographical order, considering the 
other states of Europe so far as they may be any way 
affected by this astonishing revolution. If early steps are 
not taken in some way or other to prevent the spreading of 
this influence, I scarcely think any of them perfectly secure. 

Italy is divided, as Germany and Switzerland are, into 
many smaller states, and with some considerable diversity 
as to forms of government; but as these divisions and 
varieties in Italy are not so considerable, so neither do I 
think the danger altogether so imminent there as in 
Germany and Switzerland. Savoy I know that the French 
consider as in a very hopeful way, and I believe not at all 
without reason. They view it as an old member of the 
kingdom of France which may be easily re-united in the 
manner, and on the principles of the re-union of Avignon. 
This country communicates with Piedmont; and, as the 
King of Sardinia's dominions were long the key of Italy, 
and as such long regarded by France, whilst France acted 
on her old maxims, and with views on Italy; so, in this 
new French Empire of sedition, if once she gets that key 
into her hands, she can easily lay open the barrier which 
hinders the entrance of her present politics into that invit- 
ing region. Milan, I am sure, nourishes great disquiets 
and, if Milan should stir, no part of Lombardy is secure 



ITALY 301 

to the present possessors whether the Venetian or the 
Austrian. Genoa is closely connected with France, 

The first prince of the house of Bourbon has been 
obliged to give himself up entirely to the new system, and 
to pretend even to propagate it with all zeal ; at least that 
club of intriguers who assemble at the Feuillans, and 
whose cabinet meets at Madame de StaeFs, and makes and 
directs all the ministers, is the real executive government 
of France. The emperor is perfectly in concert, and they 
will not long suffer any prince of the house of Bourbon 
to keep by force the French emissaries out of their 
dominions; nor whilst France has a commerce with them, 
especially through Marseilles (the hottest focus of sedition 
in France), will it be long possible to prevent the inter- 
course or the effects. 

Naples has an old, inveterate disposition to repub- 
licanism, and (however for some time past quiet) is as 
liable to explosion as its own Vesuvius. Sicily, I think, 
has these dispositions in full as strong a degree. In neither 
of these countries exists anything which very well deserves 
the name of government or exact police. 

In the States of the Church, notwithstanding their 
strictness in banishing the French out of that country, 
they are not wanting the seeds of a revolution. The spirit 
of nepotism prevails there nearly as strong as ever. Every 
pope of course is to give origin or restoration to a great 
family, by the means of large donations. The foreign 
revenues have long been gradually on the decline, and seem 
now in a manner dried up. To supply this defect the 
resource of vexatious and impolitic jobbing at home, if 
anything, is rather increased than lessened. Various well 
intended but ill understood practices, some of them exist- 
ing, in their spirit at least, from the time of the old Roman 
empire, still prevail; and that government is as blindly 
attached to old, abusive customs, as others are wildly 
disposed to all sorts of innovations and experiments. These 
abuses were less felt whilst the pontificate drew riches 
from abroad, which in some measure counterbalanced the 
evils of their remiss and jobbish government at home. 
But now it can subsist only on the resources of domestic 
management; and abuses in that management of course 
will be more intimately and more severely felt 



302 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

In the midst of the apparently torpid languor of the 
ecclesiastical state 3 those who have had opportunity of a 

near observation have seen a little rippling in that smooth 
water, which indicates something- alive under it. There is, 
in the ecclesiastical state, a personage who seems capable 
of acting (but with more force and steadiness) the part of 
the tribune Rienzi. The people, once inflamed, will not be 
destitute of a leader. They have such an one already in 
the Cardinal or Archbishop Buon Campagna. He is, of 
all men, if I am not ill informed, the most turbulent, 
seditious, intriguing, bold, and desperate. He is not at 
all made for a Roman of the present day. I think he lately 
held the first office of their state, that of great chamber- 
lain, which is equivalent to high treasurer. At present he 
is out of employment, and in disgrace. If he should be 
elected pope, or even come to have any weight with a new 
pope, he will infallibly conjure up a democratic spirit in 
that country. He may indeed be able to effect it without 
these advantages. The next interregnum will probably 
show more of him. There may be others of the same char- 
acter, who have not come to my knowledge. This much 
is certain, that the Roman people, if once the blind rever- 
ence they bear to the sanctity of the pope, which is their 
only bridle, should relax, are naturally turbulent, ferocious, 
and headlong, whilst the police is defective, and the 
government feeble and resourceless beyond all imagination. 

As to Spain, if is a nerveless country. It does not 
possess the use, it only suffers the abuse, of a nobility. 
For some time, and even before the settlement of the 
Bourbon dynasty, that body has been systematically 
lowered, and rendered incapable by exclusion, and for 
incapacity excluded from affairs. In this circle the body 
is in a manner annihilated, and so little means have they 
of any weighty exertion either to control or to support the 
crown, that if they at all interfere, it is only by abetting 
desperate and mobbish insurrections, like that at Madrid, 
which drove Squillace from his place. Florida Blanca is a 
creature of office, and has little connexion and no sympathy 
with that body. 

As to the clergy, they are the only thing in Spain that 
looks like an independent order, and they are kept in some 
respect by the Inquisition, the sole but unhappy resource 



SPAIN A NERVELESS COUNTRY 



303 



of public tranquillity and order now remaining in Spain, 
As in Venice, it is become mostly an engine of state, which 
indeed to a degree it has always been in Spain. It wars no 
longer with Jews and heretics ; it has no such war to carry 
on. Its great object is to keep atheistic and republican 
doctrines from making their way in that kingdom. No 
French book upon any subject can enter there which does 
not contain such matter. In Spain, the clergy are of 
moment from their influence, but at the same time with the 
envy and jealousy that attend great riches and power. 
Though the crown has by management with the pope got 
a very great share of the ecclesiastical revenues into its 
own hands, much still remains to them. There will always 
be about that court those who look out to a farther division 
of the church property as a resource, and to be obtained 
by shorter methods, than those of negotiations with the 
clergy and their chief. But at present I think it likely that 
they will stop, lest the business should be taken out of their 
hands : and^lest that body, in which remains the only life 
that exists in Spain, and is not a fever, may with their 
property lose all the influence necessary to preserve the 
monarchy, or, being poor and desperate, may employ 
whatever influence remains to them as active agents in its 
destruction. 

The Castilians have still remaining a good deal of their 
old character, their gramdad, lealdad, and il timor de Dios / 
but that character neither is, nor ever was, exactly true, 
except of the Castilians only. The several kingdoms, 
which compose Spain, have, perhaps, some features which 
run through the whole; but they are in many particulars 
as different as nations who go by different names : the 
Catalans, for instance, and the Arragonians too, in a great 
measure have the spirit of the Miquelets, and much more 
of republicanism than of an attachment to royalty. They 
are more in the way of trade and intercourse with France ; 
and, upon the least internal movement, will disclose and 
probably let loose a spirit that may throw the whole 
Spanish monarchy into convulsions. 

It is a melancholy reflection that the spirit of melioration 
which has been going on in that part of Europe, more or less 
during this century, and the various schemes very lately on 
foot for further advancement, are all put a stop to at once. 



304 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

Reformation certainly is nearly connected with innovation 
and, where that latter comes in for too large a share, 
those who undertake to improve their country may risk 
their own safety. In times where the correction,^ which 
includes the confession, of an abuse, is turned to criminate 
the authority which has long suffered it, rather than to 
honour those who would amend it, (which is the spirit of 
this malignant French distemper,) every step out of the 
common course becomes critical, and renders it a task full 
of peril for princes of moderate talents to engage in great 
undertakings. At present the only safety of Spain is the 
old national hatred to the French. How far that can be 
depended upon, if any great ferments should be excited, it 
is impossible to say. 

As to Portugal, she is out of the high road of these 
politics I shall, therefore, not divert my thoughts that 
way; but return again to the North of Europe, which 
at present seems the part most interested, and there it 
appears to me that the French speculation on the northern 
countries may be valued in the following, or some such 
manner. 

Denmark and Norway do not appear to furnish any of 
the materials of a democratic revolution, or the disposi- 
tions to it. Denmark can only be consequentially affected 
by anything done in France ; but of Sweden I think quite 
otherwise. The present power in Sweden is too new a 
system and too green, and too sore, from its late revolu- 
tion, to be considered as perfectly assured. The king, by 
his astonishing activity, his boldness, his decision, his 
ready versatility, and by rousing and employing the old 
military spirit of Sweden, keeps up the top with continual 
agitation and lashing. The moment it ceases to spin, the 
royalty is a dead bit of box. Whenever Sweden is quiet 
externally for some time, there is great danger that all the 
republican elements she contains will be animated by the 
new French spirit, and of this I believe the king is very 
sensible. 

The Russian Government is of all others the most liable 
to be subverted by military seditions, by court conspiracies, 
and sometimes by headlong rebellions of the people, such 
as the turbinating- movement of Pugatchef. It is not quite 
so probable that in any of these changes the spirit of system 



RUSSIA AND POLAND 305 

may mingle in the manner it has done in France. The 
Muscovites are no great speculators but I should not 
much rely on their uninquisitive disposition, if any of 
their ordinary motives to sedition should arise. The little 
catechism of the rights of men Is soon learned; and the 
inferences are in the passions. 

Poland, from one cause or other, is always unquiet. The 
new constitution only serves to supply that restless people 
with new means, at least new modes of cherishing their 
turbulent disposition. The bottom of the character is the 
same. It is a great question, whether the joining- that 
crown with the electorate of Saxony will contribute most 
to strengthen the royal authority of Poland, or to shake 
the ducal in Saxony. The elector is a Catholic ; the people 
of Saxony are, six-sevenths at the very least, Protestants. 
He must continue a Catholic, according to the Polish law, 
if he accepts that crown. The pride of the Saxons, 
formerly flattered by having a crown in the house of their 
prince, though an honour which cost them dear; the 
German probity, fidelity and loyalty; the weight of the, 
constitution of tHe empire under the treaty of Westphalia ; 
the good temper and good nature of the princes of the 
house of Saxony ; had formerly removed from the people 
all apprehension with regard to their religion, and kept 
them perfectly quiet, obedient, and even affectionate. The 
seven years' war made some change in the minds of the 
Saxons. They did not, I believe, regret the loss of what 
might be considered almost as the succession to the crown 
of Poland, the possession of which, by annexing them to a 
foreign interest, had often obliged them to act an arduous 
part, towards the support of which that foreign interest 
afforded no proportionable strength. In this very delicate 
situation of their political interests, the speculations of the 
French and German economists, and the cabals, and the 
secret, as well as public doctrines of the illuminatenorden 
and free masons, have made a considerable progress in 
that country ; and a turbulent spirit under colour of religion, 
but in reality arising from the French rights of man, has 
already shown itself, and is ready on every occasion to 
blaze out. 

The present elector is a prince of a safe and quiet temper, 
of great prudence, and goodness. He knows that, in the 

" L 46o 



306 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

actual state of things, not the power and respect belong- 
ing to sovereigns, but their very existence depends on a 
reasonable frugality. It is very certain that not one sove- 
reign in Europe can either promise for the continuance of 
his authority in a state of indigence and insolvency, or 
dares to venture on a new imposition to relieve himself. 
Without abandoning wholly the ancient magnificence of Ms 
court, the elector has conducted his affairs with infinitely 
more economy than any oi his predecessors, so as to restore 
his finances beyond what was thought possible from the 
state in which the seven years' war had left Saxony. 
Saxony, during the whole of that dreadful period, having 
been in the hands of an exasperated enemy, rigorous by 
resentment, by nature and by necessity, was obliged to bear 
in a manner the whole burd'en of the war ; in the Intervals 
when their allies prevailed, the inhabitants of that country- 
were not better treated. 

The moderation and prudence of the present elector, in 
my opinion, rather perhaps respites the troubles than 
secures the peace of the electorate. The offer of the 
succession to the crown of Poland is truly critical, whether 
he accepts, or whether he declines it. If the states will 
consent to his acceptance, it will add to the difficulties, 
already great, of his situation between the King of 
Prussia and the emperor. But these thoughts lead me 
too far, when I mean to speak only of the interior condition 
of these princes. It has always, however, some necessary 
connexion with their foreign politics. 

With regard to Holland, and the ruling party there, I 
.do not think it at all tainted, or likely to be so, except by 
fear ; or that it is likely to be misled, unless indirectly and 
circuitously. But the predominant party in Holland is not 
Holland. The suppressed faction, though suppressed, 
exists. Under the ashes, the embers of the late commo- 
tions are still warm. The anti-Orange party has from the 
day of its origin been French, though alienated in some 
degree for some time, through the pride and folly of 
Louis XIV. It will ever hanker after a French connexion ; 
and now that the internal government in France has been 
assimilated in so considerable a degree to that which the 
immoderate republicans besfan so very lately to introduce 
into Holland, their connexion, as still more natural, will 



ENGLAND 307 

be more desired. I do not well understand the present 
exterior politics of the stadtholder, nor the treaty into 
which the newspapers say he has entered for the "States 
with the emperor. But the emperor's own politics with 
regard to the Netherlands seem to me to be exactly cal- 
culated to answer the purpose of the French revolution- 
ists. He endeavours to crush the aristocratic party and 
to nourish one in avowed connexion with the most furious 
democratists in France. 

These provinces in which the French game is so well 
played, they consider as part of the old French empire ; 
certainly they were amongst the oldest parts of it. These 
they think very well situated, as their party is well 
disposed to a re-union. As to the greater nations, they 
do not aim at making a direct conquest of them, but by 
disturbing them through a propagation of their principles, 
they hope to weaken, as they will weaken them, and to 
keep them in perpetual alarm and agitation, and thus 
render all their efforts against them utterly impracticable, 
whilst they extend the dominion of their sovereign anarchy 
on all sides. 

As to England, there may be some apprehension from 
vicinity, from constant communication, and from the very 
name of liberty, which, as it ought to be very dear to us, 
in its worst abuses carries something seductive. It is the 
abuse of the first and best of the objects which we cherish. 
I know that many, who sufficiently dislike the system of 
France, have yet no apprehension of its prevalence here. 
I say nothing to the ground of this security in the attach- 
ment of the people to their constitution, and their satis- 
faction in the discreet portion of liberty which it measures 
out to them. Upon this I have said all I have to say, in 
the appeal I have published. That security is something, 
and not inconsiderable. But if a storm arises I should not 
much rely upon it. 

There are other views of things which may be used to 
give us a perfect (though in my opinion a delusive) assur- 
ance of our own security. The first of these is from the 
weakness and rickety nature of the new system in the place 
of its first formation. It is thought that the monster of a 
commonwealth cannot possibly live that at any rate the 
ill contrivance of their fabric will make it fall in pieces of 



308 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

Itself that the assembly must be bankrupt, and that this 
bankruptcy will totally destroy that system, from the 
contagion of which apprehensions are entertained. 

For my part I have long thought that one great cause 

of the stability of this wretched scheme of things in 
France was an opinion that it could not stand ; and, there- 
fore, that all external measures to destroy it were wholly 
useless. 

As to the bankruptcy, that event has happened long 
ago, as much as it is ever likely to happen. As soon as a 
nation compels a creditor to take paper currency in dis- 
charge of his debt, there is a bankruptcy. The compulsory 
paper has in some degree answered ; not because there was 
a surplus from church lands, but because faith has not 
been kept with the clergy. As to the holders of the old 
funds, to them the payments will be dilatory, but they will 
be made, and whatever may be the discount on paper, 
whilst paper is taken, paper will be issued. 

As to the rest, they have shot out three branches of 
revenue to supply all those which they have destroyed, 
that is, the Universal Register of all Transactions, the 
heavy and universal Stamp Duty, and the new Territorial 
Impost, levied chiefly on the reduced estates of the gentle- 
men. These branches of the revenue, especially as they 
take assignats in payment, answer their purpose in a con- 
siderable degree, and keep up the credit of their paper; 
for as they receive it in their treasury, it is in reality 
funded upon all their taxes and future resources of all 
kinds, as well as upon the church estates. As this paper 
is become in a manner the only visible maintenance of the 
whole people, the dread of a bankruptcy is more appar- 
ently connected with the delay of a counter-revolution, than 
with the duration of this republic; because the interest of 
the new republic manifestly leans upon it; and, in my 
opinion, the counter-revolution cannot exist along with it. 
The above three projects ruined some ministers under the 
old government, merely for having conceived them. They 
are the salvation of the present rulers. 

As the assembly has laid a most unsparing and cruel 
hand on all men who have lived by the bounty, the justice, 
or the abuses of the old government, they have less- 
ened many expenses. The royal establishment, though 



ITS BANKRUPTCY 309 

excessively and ridiculously great for their scheme of 
things, is reduced at least one-half; the -estates of the 
king's brothers, which under the ancient government had 
been in truth royal revenues, go to the general stock of the 
confiscation ; and as to the crown lands, though, under the 
monarchy, they never yielded two hundred and fifty thou- 
sand a year, by many they are thought at least worth tnree 
times as much. 

As to the ecclesiastical charge, whether as a compensa- 
tion for losses, or a provision for religion, of which they 
made at first a great parade, and entered into a solemn 
engagement in favour of it, it was estimated at a much 
larger sum than they could expect from the church 
property, movable or immovable: they are completely 
bankrupt as to that article. It is just what they wish; 
and it is not productive of any serious inconvenience. The 
non-payment produces discontent and occasional sedition ; 
but it is only by fits and spasms, and amongst the country 
people who are of no consequence. These seditions furnish 
new pretexts for non-payment to the church establishment, 
and help the assembly wholly to get rid of the clergy, and 
indeed of any form of religion, which is not only their real, 
but avowed object. 

They are embarrassed indeed in the highest degree, but 
not wholly resourceless. They are without the species of 
money. Circulation of money is a great convenience, but 
a substitute for it may be found. Whilst the great objects 
of production and consumption, corn, cattle, wine, and the 
like, exist in a country, the means of giving them circula- 
tion, with more or less convenience, cannot be wholly 
wanting. The great confiscation of the church and of the 
crown lands, and of the appendages of the princes, for the 
purchase of all which their paper is always received at par, 
gives means of continually destroying and continually 
creating, and this perpetual destruction and renovation 
feeds the speculative market, and prevents, and will pre- 
vent, till that fund of confiscation begins to fail, a total 
depreciation. 

But all consideration of public credit in France is of 
little avail at present. The action indeed of the monied 
interest was of absolute necessity at the beginning of this 
revolution ; but the French republic can stand without any 



310 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

assistance from that description of men, which, as things 
are now circumstanced, rather stands in need of assist- 
ance itself from the power which alone substantially exists 
in France ; I mean the several districts and municipal 
republics, and the several clubs which direct all their 
affairs and appoint all their magistrates. This is the power 
now paramount to everything, even to the Assembly itself 
called National, and that to which tribunals, priesthoods, 
laws, finances, and both descriptions of military power are 
ivholly subservient, so far as the military power of either 
description yields obedience to any name of authority. 

The world of contingency and political combination is 
much larger than we are apt to imagine. We never can 
say what may, or may not happen, without a view to all 
the actual circumstances. Experience, upon other data 
than those, is of all things the most delusive. Prudence 
in new cases can do nothing on grounds of retrospect. A 
constant vigilance and attention to the train of things as 
they successively emerge, and to act on what they direct, 
are the only sure courses. The physician that let blood, 
and by blood-letting cured one kind of plague, in the next 
added to its ravages. That power goes with property is 
not universally true, and the idea that the operation of it 
is certain and invariable may mislead us very fatally. 

Whoever will take an accurate view of the state of those 
republics, and of the composition of the present assembly 
deputed by them (in which assembly there are not quite 
fifty persons possessed of an income amounting to looL 
sterling yearly), must discern clearly, that the political 
and civil power of France is 'wholly separated from its 
property of every description; and of course that neither 
trie landed nor the monied interest possesses the smallest 
weight or consideration in the direction of any public 
concern. The whole kingdom is directed by the refuse of 
its chicane, with the aid of the bustling, presumptuous 
young clerks of counting-houses and shops, and some inter- 
mixture of young gentlemen of the same character in the 
several towns. The rich peasants are bribed with church 
lands ; and the poorer of that description are, and can be, 
counted for nothing 1 . They may rise in ferocious, ill- 
directed tumults but they can only disgrace themselves 
and signalize the triumph of their adversaries. 



THE RULING FACTION 311 

The truly active citizens, that ts, the above descriptions, 
are all concerned in intrigue respecting the various objects 
in their local or their general government. The rota, 
which the French have established for their National 
Assembly, holds out the highest objects of ambition to such 
vast multitudes as, in an unexampled measure, to widen 
the bottom of a new species of interest merely political, 
and wholly unconnected with birth or property. This 
scheme of a rota, though it enfeebles the state, considered 
as one solid body, and indeed wholly disables it from 
acting as such, gives a great, an equal, and a diffusive 
strength to the democratic scheme. Seven hundred and 
fifty people, every two years raised to the supreme power, 
has already produced at least fifteen hundred bold, acting 
politicians ; a great number for even so great a country as 
France. _ These men never will quietly settle in ordinary 
occupations, nor submit to any scheme which must reduce 
them to an entirely private condition, or to the exercise of 
a steady, peaceful, but obscure and unimportant industry. 
Whilst they sit in the assembly they are denied offices of 
trust and profit but their short duration makes this 
no restraint during their probation and apprenticeship 
they are all salaried with an income to the greatest part 
of them immense; and, after they have passed the 
novitiate, those who take any sort of lead are placed 
in very lucrative offices, according to their influence 
and credit, or appoint those who divide their profits with 
them. 

This supply of recruits to the corps of the highest civil 
ambition goes on with a regular prog'ression. In very few 
years it must amount to many thousands. These, however, 
will be as nothing in comparison to the multitude of muni- 
cipal officers, and officers of district and department, of all 
sorts, who have tasted of power and profit, and who hunger 
for the periodical return of the meal. To these needy 
agitators, the glory of the state, the general wealth and 
prosperity of the nation, and the rise or fall of public credit, 
are as dreams; nor have arguments deduced from these 
topics any sort of weight with them. The indifference with 
vjdiich the assembly regards the state of their colonies, 
the only valuable part of the French -commerce, is a full 
proof how little they are likely to be affected by anything 



312 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

but the selfish game of their own ambition, now universally 
diffused. 

It is true, amidst all these turbulent means of security 
to their system, very great discontents everywhere prevail. 
But they only produce misery to those who nurse them at 
home, or exile, beggary, and in the end confiscation, to 
those who are so impatient as to remove from them. Each 
municipal republic has a committee, or something in the 
nature of a committee of research. In these petty republics 
the tyranny is so near its object, that it becomes instantly 
acquainted with every act of every man. It stifles con- 
spiracy in its very first movements. Their power is abso- 
lute and uncontrollable. No stand can be made against it. 
The republics are besides so disconnected, that very little 
intelligence of what happens in them is to be obtained, 
beyond their own bounds, except by the means of their 
clubs, who keep up a constant correspondence, an-d who 
give what colour they please to such facts as they choose 
to communicate out of the track of their correspondence. 
They all have some sort of communication, just as much 
or as little as they please, with the centre. By this con- 
finement of all communication to the ruling faction, any 
combination, grounded on the abuses and discontents in 
one, scarcely can reach the other. There is not one man, 
in any one place, to head them. The old government had 
so much abstracted the nobility from the cultivation of 
provincial interest, that no man in France exists, whose 
power, credit, or consequence, extends to two districts, 
or who is capable of uniting them in any design, even 
if any man could assemble ten men together, without 
being sure of a speedy lodging in a prison. One must 
not judge of the state of France by what has been 
observed elsewhere. It does not in the least resemble 
any other country. Analogical reasoning from history 
or from recent experience in other places is wholly 
delusive. 

In my opinion there never was seen so strong a govern- 
ment internally as that of the French municipalities. If 
ever any rebellion can arise against the present system, it 
must begin where the revolution which gave birth to it did, 
at the capital. Paris is the only place in which there is the 
least freedom of intercourse. But even there, so many 



BURKE' S CONCLUSIONS 313 

servants as any man has, so many spies, and Irreconcilable 
domestic enemies. 

But that place being the chief seat of the power and 
intelligence of the ruling faction, and the place of occa- 
sional resort for their fiercest spirits, even there a revolu- 
tion is not likely to have anything to feed it. The leaders 
of the aristocratic party have been drawn out of the king- 
dom by order of the princes, on the hopes held out by the 
emperor and the King of Prussia at Pilnitz; and as to the 
democratic factions in Paris, amongst them there are no 
leaders possessed of an influence for any other purpose 
but that of maintaining the present state of things. The 
moment they are seen to warp, they are reduced to nothing. 
They have no attached army no party that is at all 
personal. 

It is not to be imagined because a political system is, 
under certain aspects, very unwise in its contrivance, and 
very mischievous in its effects, that it therefore can have 
no long duration. Its very defects may tend to its stability, 
because they are agreeable to its nature. The very faults 
in the constitution of Poland made it last; the veto which 
destroyed all its energy preserved its life. What can be 
conceived so monstrous as the republic of Algiers? and 
that no less strange republic of the Mamelukes in Egypt? 
They are of the worst form imaginable, and exercised in 
the worst manner, yet they have existed as a nuisance on 
the earth for several hundred years. 

From all these considerations, and many more that 
crowd upon me, three conclusions have long since arisen in 
my mind 

First, that no counter-revolution is to be expected in 
France, from internal causes solely. 

Secondly, that the longer the present system exists, the 
greater will be its strength; the greater its power to 
destroy discontents at home, and to resist all foreign 
attempts in favour of these discontents. 

Thirdly, that as long as it exists in France, it will be 
the interest of the managers there, and it is in the very 
essence of their plan, to disturb and distract all other 
governments, and their endless succession of restless 
politicians will continually stimulate them to new attempts. 

Princes are generally sensible that this is their common 
* T 460 



3 i4 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

cause; and two of them have made a public declaration of 
their opinion to this effect. Ag"ainst this common danger, 
some of them, such as the King of Spain, the King of 
Sardinia, and the republic of Berne, are very diligent in 
using defensive measures. 

If they were to guard against an invasion from France, 
the merits of this plan of a merely defensive resistance 
might be supported by plausible topics ; but as the attack 
does not operate against these countries externally, but by 
an internal corruption (a sort of dry rot) ; they, who pursue 
this merely defensive plan, against a danger which the 
plan itself supposes to be serious, cannot possibly escape 
it. For it is in the nature of all defensive measures to be 
^harp and vigorous under the impressions of the first 
alarm, and to relax by degrees ; until at length the danger, 
by not operating instantly, comes to appear as a false 
alarm ; so much so that the next menacing appearance will 
look less formidable, and will be less provided against. 
But to those who are on the offensive it is not necessary to 
be always alert. Possibly it is more their interest not to 
be so. For their unforeseen attacks contribute to their 
success. 

In the meantime a system of French conspiracy is gain- 
ing ground in every country. This system happening to 
be founded on principles the most delusive indeed, but the 
most flattering to the natural propensities of the unthink- 
ing multitude, and to the speculations of all those who 
think, without thinking very profoundly, must daily extend 
its influence. A predominant inclination towards it 
appears in all those who have no religion, when otherwise 
their disposition leads them to be advocates even for 
despotism. Hence Hume, though I cannot say that he 
does not throw out some expressions of disapprobation on 
the proceedings of the levellers in the reign of Richard II., 
yet affirms that the doctrines of John Ball were "con- 
formable to the ideas of primitive equality, which are 
engraven in the hearts of all men." 

Boldness formerly was not the character of Atheists as 
such. They were even of a character nearly the reverse ; 
they were formerly like the old Epicureans, rather an 
unenterprising race. But of late they are grown active, 
designing, turbulent, and seditious. They are sworn 



CONDORCET'S SENTIMENTS 315 

enemies to kings, nobility, and priesthood. We have seen 
all the academicians at Paris, with Condorcet, the friend 
and correspondent of Priestley, at their head, the most 
furious of the extravagant republicans. 

The late assembly, after the last captivity of the king, 
had actually chosen this Condorcet by a majority in the 
ballot, for preceptor to the dauphin, who was to be taken 
out of the hands and direction of his parents, and to be 
delivered over to this fanatic atheist, and furious demo- 
cratic republican. His untractability to these leaders, and 
his figure In the club of Jacobins, which at that time they 
wished to bring under, alone prevented that part of the 
arrangement, and others in the .same style, from being- 
carried into execution. Whilst he was candidate for this 
office he produced his title to it by promulgating the follow- 
ing ideas of the title of his royal pupil to the crown. In a 
paper written by him, and published with his name, against 
the re-establishment, even of the appearance of monarchy 
under any qualifications, he says : " Jusqu'k ce moment ils 
[rAssemblee Nationale] n'ont rien prjug6 encore. En se 
r^servant de nommer un gouverneur au dauphin, ils n'ont 




; que les prestiges ___ 
trdne ont pu lui inspirer de pr^juges sur les droits pre- 
tendus de ^sa naissance, qu'elle lui fit connoitre de bonne 
heure, et I'egalite naturelle des hommes, et la souuerainete 
du peuple; qu'elle lui apprit ne pas oublier que c'est du 
peuple qu'Il tiendra le tltre de roi, et que le peuple n'a pas 
meme le droit de renoncer a celui de Ven ddpouiller* 

^ " Ils ont voulu que cette Education le rendit ^galement 
digne par ses lumi&res, et ses vertus, de recevoir auec 
resignation le fardeau dangereux d'une couronne, ou de la 
deposer avec joie entre les mains de ses fr&res, qu'il sentit 
que le devoir, et la gloire du roi d'un peuple libre, est dc 
hater le moment de n'tre plus qii'un citoyen ordinaire. 

"Ils ont voulu que rinutilitS d'un roi, la n^cessite" de 
chercher les moyens de remplacer un pouvoir fonde sur les 
illusions, iut une des premieres v^rit^s offertes a sa raison ; 
I* obligation d'y concourir lui~mme un des premiers devoirs 
de sa morale; et le desir f de n'etre plus'affranchi du joug 
de la loi, par une injurieuse inviolability, le premier senti- 



3 i6 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

ment de son cceur. Us n'ignorent pas que dans ce moment 
il s'agit bien moins de former un roi que de iui apprendre 
& savoir^ b, couloir ne plus V&tre.i " 

Such are the sentiments of the man who has occasion- 
ally filled the chair of the National Assembly, who is their 
perpetual secretary, their only standing officer, and the 
most important by far. He leads them to peace or war. 
He is the great theme of the republican faction in England. 
These ideas of M. Condorcet are the principles of those 
to whom kings are to entrust their successors, and the 
interests of their succession. This man would be ready to 
plunge the poniard in the heart of his pupil, or to whet the 
axe for his neck. Of all men, the most dangerous is a 
warm, hot-headed, zealous atheist. This sort of man aims 
at dominion, and his means are, the words he always has 
in his mouth, "L'egalite' naturelle des hommes, et la 
souverainet6 du peuple." 

All former attempts, grounded on these rights of men, 
had proved unfortunate. The success of this last makes a 
mighty difference in the effect of the doctrine. Here is a 
principle of a nature to the multitude the most seductive, 
always existing before their eyes, as a thing feasible^ in 
practice. After so many failures, such an enterprise, 

1 * Until now, they (the National Assembly) have prejudged nothing. 
Reserving to themselves a right to appoint a preceptor to the dauphin, 
they did not declare that this child was to reign, but only \h&.\. possibly 
the "constitute on might destine him to it: they willed that while educa- 
tion should efface from his mind all the prejudices arising from the 
delusions of the throne respecting- his pretended birth-right, it should 
also teach him not to forget, that it is from the people he is to receive 
the title of king, and that the people do not even possess the right of giving 
up their power to take it from him. 

1 They willed that this education should render him worthy by his 
knowledge, and by his virtues, both to receive with submission the 
dangerous burden of a crown, and to resign it with pleasure into the 
hands of his brethren : that he should be conscious that the hastening 
of that moment when he is to be only a common citizen constitutes 
the duty and the glory of a king of free people. 

' They willed that the uselessness of a king, the necessity of seeking 
means to establish something in lieu of a power founded on illusions, 
should be one of the first truths offered to his reason ; the obligation of 
conforming himself to this, the first of his moral duties ; and the desire of no 
longer bein'i freed from the yoke of the law, by an injurious inviolability, the 
first and chief sentiment of his heart. They are not ignorant that in the 
present moment the object is less to form a king, than to teach him 
that he should know how to wish no longer to be such. 



CHARACTER OF FRENCH MINISTERS 317 

previous to the French experiment, carried ruin to the 
contrivers, on the face of it; and if any enthusiast was bo 
wild as to wish to engage in a scheme of that nature, it 
was not easy for him to find followers : now there is a party 
almost in all countries, ready made, animated with success 
with a sure ally in the very centre of Europe. There is no 
cabal so obscure in any place, that they do not protect, 
cherish, foster, and endeavour to raise it into importance 
at home and abroad. From the lowest, this intrigue will 
creep up to the highest. Ambition, as well as enthusiasm, 
may find^its account in the party and in the principle. 

The ministers of other kings, like those of the King of 
France (not one of whom was perfectly free from this guilt, 
and some of whom were very deep in it), may themselves 
be the persons to foment such a disposition and such a 
faction. Hertzberg, the King of Prussia's late minister, is 
so much of what is called a philosopher, that he was of a 
faction with that sort of politicians in every thing, and in 
every place. Even when he defends himself from the 
imputation of giving extravagantly into these principles, 
he still considers the revolution of France as a great public 
good, by giving credit to their fraudulent declaration of 
their universal benevolence, and love of peace. Nor are his 
Prussian majesty's present ministers at all disinclined to 
the same system. Their ostentatious preamble to certain 
late edicts demonstrates, (if their actions had not been 
sufficiently ^explanatory of their cast of mind,) that they 
are deeply infected with the same distemper of dangerous, 
because plausible, though trivial and shallow speculation. 

Ministers, turning their backs on the reputation which 
-properly belongs to them, aspire at the glory of being 
speculative writers. The duties of these two situations 
are, in general, directly opposite to each other. Specu- 
lators ought to be^ neutral. A minister cannot be so. He 
is to support the interest of the public as connected with 
that of his master. He is his master's trustee, advocate, 
attorney, and steward and he is not to indulge in any 
speculation which contradicts that character, or even 
detracts from its efficacy. Necker had an extreme thirst 
for this sort of glory ; so had others ; and this pursuit of 
a misplaced and misunderstood reputation was one of the 
causes of the ruin of these ministers, and of their unhappy 



318 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

master. The Prussian ministers In foreign courts have 
(at least not long" since) talked the most democratic 
language with regard to France, and in the most 
unmanaged terms. 

The whole corps diplomatique, with very fe\v excep- 
tions, leans that way. What cause produces in them a 
turn of mind, which at first one would think unnatural to 
their situation, It is not Impossible to explain. The dis- 
cussion would, however, be somewhat long and somewhat 
invidious. The fact itself is Indisputable, however they 
may disguise It to their several courts. This disposition 
Is gone to so very great a length in that corps, in Itself 
so important, and so Important as furnishing the intelli- 
gence which sways all cabinets, that if princes and states 
do not very speedily attend with a vigorous control to that 
source of direction and Information, very serious evils are 
likely to befall them. 

But indeed kings are to guard against the same sort of 
dispositions In themselves. They are very easily alienated 
from all the higher orders of their subjects, whether civil 
or military, laic or ecclesiastical. It Is with persons of 
condition that sovereigns chiefly come Into contact. It Is 
from them that they generally experience opposition to 
their will. It Is with their pride and impracticability that 
princes are most hurt; it is with their servility and base- 
ness that they are most commonly disgusted; It is from 
their humours and cabals that they find their affairs most 
frequently troubled and distracted. But of the common 
people, in pure monarchical governments, kings know 
little or nothing; and therefore being unacquainted with 
their faults, (which are as many as those of the great, and 
much more decisive In their effects when accompanied 
with power,) kings generally regard them with tenderness 
and favour, and turn their eyes towards that description 
of their subjects, particularly when hurt by opposition 
from the higher orders. It was thus that the King of 
France (a perpetual example to all sovereigns) was ruined. 
I have It from very sure Information (and Indeed it was 
obvious enough from the measures which were taken 
previous to the assembly of the states and afterwards) that 
the kind's counsellors had filled him with a strong dislike 
to his nobility, his clergy, and the corps of his magistracy. 



KING DELUDED TO HIS RUIN 319 

They represented to him, that he had tried them all 
severally^ in several ways, and found them all untractable. 
That he had twice called an assembly (the notables) com- 
posed of the first men of the clergy, the nobility, and the 
magistrates ; that he had himself named every one member 
in those assemblies, and that, though so picked out, he had 
not, in this their collective state, found them more disposed 
to a compliance with his will than they had been separately. 
That there remained for him, with the least prospect of 
advantage to his authority in the states-general, which 
were to be composed of the same sorts of men, but not 
chosen by him, only the tiers itat. In this alone he could 
repose any hope of extricating himself from his difficulties, 
and of settling him in a clear and permanent authority. 
They represented (these are the words of one of my 
informants) "that the royal authority, compressed with 
the weight of these aristocratic bodies, full of ambition and 
of faction, when once unloaded, would rise of itself, and 
occupy its natural place without disturbance or control " : 
that the^ common people would protect, cherish, and 
support, instead of crushing it. "The people (It was said) 
could entertain no objects of ambition ; " they were out of 
the road of intrigue and cabal ; and could possibly have no 
other view than the support of the mild and parental 
authority by which they were invested, for the first time 
collectively, with real importance in the state, and protected 
in their peaceable and useful employments. 

This unfortunate king (not without a large share of 
blame to himself) was deluded to his ruin by a desire to 
humble and reduce his nobility, clergy, and his corporate 
magistracy ; not that I suppose he meant wholly to eradi- 
cate these bodies, in the manner since effected by the 
democratic power; I rather believe that even Necker's 
designs did not go to that extent. With his own hand, 
however, Louis XVL pulled down the pillars which upheld 
his throne; and this he did, because he could not bear 
the inconveniences which are attached to everything 
human ; because he found himself cooped up, and in 
durance, by those limits which nature prescribes to desire 
and imagination; and was taught to consider as low and 
degrading that mutual dependence which. Providence has 
ordained that all men should have on one another. He is 



320 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

not at this minute perhaps cured of the dread of the power 
and credit likely to be acquired by those who would save 
and rescue him. He leaves those who suffer in his cause 
to their fate; and hopes, by various, mean, delusive in- 
trigues, in which I am afraid he is encouraged from abroad, 
to regain, among traitors and regicides, the power he has 
joined to take from his own family, whom he quietly sees 
proscribed before his eyes, and called to answer to the 
lowest of his rebels, as the vilest of all criminals. 

It is to be hoped that the emperor may be taught better 
things by this fatal example. But it is sure that he has 
advisers who endeavour to fill him with the ideas which 
have brought his brother-in-law to his present situation. 
Joseph II. was far gone in this philosophy, and some, if 
not most ; who serve the emperor, would kindly initiate 
him into all the mysteries of this freemasonry. They would 
persuade him to look on the National Assembly, not with 
the hatred of an enemy, but with the jealousy of a rival. 
They would make him desirous of doing, in his own 
dominions, by a royal despotism, what has been done in 
France by a democratic. Rather than abandon such enter- 
prises, they would persuade him to a strange alliance 
between those extremes. Their grand object being now, 
as in his brother's time, at any rate to destroy the higher 
orders, they think he cannot compass this end, as certainly 
lie cannot , without elevating the lower. By depressing the 
one and by raising the other, they hope in the first place 
to increase his treasures and his army; and with these 
common instruments of royal power they flatter him that 
the democracy which they help, in his name, to create, will 
give him but little trouble. In defiance of the freshest 
experience, which might show him that old impossibilities 
are become modern probabilities, and that the extent to 
which evil principles may go, when left to their own 
operation, is beyond the power of calculation, they will 
endeavour to persuade him that such a democracy is a 
thing which cannot subsist by itself; that in whose'hands 
soever the military command is placed, he must be, in the 
necessary course of affairs, sooner or later the master; 
and that, being the master of various unconnected coun- 
tries, he may keep them all in order by employing a 
military force, which to each of them is foreign. This 



CONDUCT OF THE EMPEROR 321 

maxim too, however formerly plausible, will not now hold 
water. This scheme is full of intricacy and may cause him 
everywhere to lose the hearts of his people. These coun- 
sellors forget that a corrupted army was the very cause 
of the ruin of his brother-in-law; and that he is himself 
far from secure from a similar corruption. 

Instead of reconciling himself heartily and bon& fide, 
according to the most obvious rules of policy, to the states 
of Brabant as they are constituted, and who in the present 
state of things stand on the same foundation with the 
monarchy itself, and who might have been gained with the 
greatest facility, they have advised him to the most 
unkingly proceeding which, either in a good or in a bad 
light, has ever been attempted. Under a pretext taken 
from the spirit of the lowest chicane, they have counselled 
him wholly to break the public faith, to annul the 
amnesty, as well as the other conditions through which he 
obtained an entrance into the provinces of the Netherlands, 
under the guarantee of Great Britain and Prussia. He is 
made to declare his adherence to the indemnity in a 
criminal sense, but he is to keep alive in his own name, and 
to encourage in others, a civil process in the nature of an 
action of damages for what has been suffered during the 
troubles. Whilst he keeps up this hopeful law-suit in view 
of the damages he may recover against individuals, he loses 
the hearts of a whole people, and the vast subsidies which 
his ancestors had been used to receive from them. 

This design once admitted, unriddles the mystery of the 
whole conduct of the emperor's ministers with regard to 
France. As soon as they saw the life of the King and 
Queen of France no longer as they thought in danger, 
they entirely changed their plan with regard to the French 
nation. I believe that the chiefs of the revolution (those 
who led the constituting assembly) have contrived, as far 
as they can do it, to give the emperor satisfaction on this 
head. He keeps a continual tone and posture of menace 
to secure this his only point. But it must be observed that 
he all along grounds his departure from the engagement 
at Pilnitz to the princes, on the will and actions of the king 
and the majority of the people, without any regard to the 
natural and constitutional orders of the state, or to the 
opinions of the whole house of Bourbon. Though it is 



322 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

manifestly under the constraint of Imprisonment and the 
fear of death, that this unhappy man has been guilty of 
all those humilities which have astonished mankind, the 
advisers of the emperor will consider nothing" but the 
physical person of Louis, which, even in his present 
degraded and infamous state, they regard as of sufficient 
authority to give a complete sanction to the persecution 
and utter ruin of all his family, and of every person who 
has shown any degree of attachment or fidelity to him, or 
to his cause; as well as competent to destroy the whole 
ancient constitution and frame of the French monarchy. 

The present policy, therefore, of the Austrian politicians 
is to recover despotism through democracy ; or, at least, at 
any expense, everywhere to ruin the description of men 
who are everywhere the objects of their settled and 
systematic aversion, but more especially in the Nether- 
lands, Compare this with the emperor's refusing at first 
all intercourse with the present powers in France, with his 
endeavouring to excite all Europe against them, and then, 
Ms not only withdrawing all assistance and all countenance 
from the fugitives who had been drawn by his declarations 
from their houses, situations, and military commissions, 
many even from the means of their very existence, but 
treating them with every species of insult and outrage. 

Combining this unexampled conduct in the emperor's 
advisers, with the timidity (operating as perfidy) of the 
King of France, a fata! example is held out to all subjects, 
tending to show what little support, or even countenance, 
they are to expect from those for whom their principle of 
fidelity may induce them to risk life and fortune. The 
emperor's advisers would not for the world rescind one of 
the acts of this or of the late French assembly; nor do 
they wish anything better at present for their master's 
brother of France, than that he should really be, as he is 
nominally, at the head of the system of persecution of 
religion and good order, and of all descriptions of dignity, 
natural and instituted ; they only wish all this done with a 
little more respect to the king's person, and with more 
appearance of consideration for his new subordinate office; 
in hopes, that, yielding himself, for the present, to the 
persons who have effected these changes, he may be able to 
game for the rest hereafter. On no other principles than 



STATE OF GENERAL ROTTENNESS 323 

these, can the conduct of the court of Vienna be accounted 
for. The subordinate court of Brussels talks the language 
of a club of Feuillans and Jacobins. 

In this state of general rottenness among subjects, and 
of delusion and false politics in princes, comes a new 
experiment. The ^King of France is in the hands of the 
chiefs of the regicide faction, the Barnaves, Lameths, 
Fayettes, Perigords, Duports, Robespierres, Camus *s, 
&c. &c. Sic. They who had imprisoned, suspended, and 
conditionally deposed him, are his confidential counsellors. 
The next desperate of the desperate rebels call themselves 
the moderate party. They are the chiefs of the first assembly, 
who are confederated to support their power during their 
suspension from the present, and to govern the existent 
body with as sovereign a sway as they had done the last. 
They have, for the greater part, succeeded ; and they have 
many advantages towards procuring their success in 
future. Just before the close of their regular power, they 
bestowed some appearance of prerogatives on the king, 
which In their first plans they had refused to him ; par- 
ticularly ^ the mischievous, and, in his situation, dreadful 
prerogative of a veto. This prerogative, (which they hold 
as their^bit in the mouth of the National Assembly for the 
time being, )^ without the direct assistance of their club, it 
was impossible for the king to show even the desire of 
exerting with the smallest effect, or even with safety to his 
person. However, by playing through this veto, the 
assembly against the king, and the king against the 
assembly, they have made themselves masters of both. la 
tnls situation, having destroyed the old government by 
their sedition, they would preserve as much of order as is 
necessary for the support of their own usurpation. 

It is believed that this, by far the worst party of the 
miscreants of France, has received direct encouragement 
from the counsellors who betray the emperor. Thus 
strengthened by the possession of the captive king (now 
captive in his mind as well as in body) and by a good hope 
of the emperor, they intend to send their ministers to every 
court in Europe ; having sent before them such a denuncia- 
tion of terror and superiority to every nation without 
exception, as has no example in the diplomatic world. 
Hitherto the ministers to foreign courts had been of the,- 



3 2 4 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

appointment of the sovereign of France previous to the 
revolution; and, either from inclination, duty or decorum, 
most of them were contented with a merely passive obedi- 
ence to the new power. At present, the king, being 
entirely in the hands of his jailors, and his mind broken 
to his situation, can send none but the enthusiasts of the 
system men framed by the secret committee of the 
Feuillans, who meet in the house of Madame de Stael, 
M. Necker's daughter. Such is every man whom they 
have talked of sending hither. These ministers will be so 
many spies and incendiaries; so many active emissaries of 
democracy. Their houses will become places of rendez- 
vous here, as everywhere else, and centres of cabal for 
whatever is mischievous and malignant in this country , 
particularly among those of rank and fashion. As the 
minister of the National Assembly will be admitted at this 
court, at least with his usual rank, and as entertainments 
will be naturally given and received by the king's own 
ministers, any attempt to discountenance the resort of 
other people to that minister would be ineffectual, and 
indeed absurd, and full of contradiction. The women who 
come with these ambassadors will assist in fomenting 
factions amongst ours, which cannot fail of extending the 
evil. Some of them I hear are already arrived. There is 
no doubt they will do as much mischief as they can. 

Whilst the public ministers are received under the 
general law of the communication between nations, the 
correspondences between the factious clubs in France and 
ours will be, as they now are, kept up ; but this pretended 
embassy will be a closer, more steady, and more effectual 
link between the partisans of the new system on both sides 
of the water. I do not mean that these Anglo-Gallic clubs 
in London, Manchester, &c., are not dangerous in a high 
degree. The appointment of festive anniversaries has ever 
in the sense of mankind been held the best method of keep- 
ing alive the spirit of any institution. We have one settled 
in London ; and at the last of them, that of the i4th of 
Julv, the strong discountenance of government, the 
unfavourable time of the year, and the then uncertainty of 
the disposition of foreign powers, did not hinder the meet- 
ing of at least nine hundred people, with good coats on 
their backs, who could afford to pay half a guinea a head 



ANGLO-GALLIC CLUBS 325 

to show their zeal for the new principles. They were with 
great difficulty, and all possible address, hindered from 
inviting the French ambassador. His real indisposition, 
besides the fear of offending any party, sent him out of 
town. But when our court shall have recognized a govern-, 
ment in France, founded on the principles announced in 
Montmorin's letter, how can the French ambassador be 
frowned upon for an attendance on those meetings, 
wherein the establishment of the government he represents 
is celebrated? An event happened a few days ago, which 
in many particulars was very ridiculous; yet, even from 
the ridicule and absurdity of the proceedings, it marks the 
more strongly the spirit of the French assembly. I mean 
the reception they have given to the Frith-street alliance. 
This, though the delirium of a low, drunken alehouse club, 
they have publicly announced as a formal alliance with the 
people of England, as such ordered it to be presented to 
their king, and to be published in every province in France. 
This leads more directly, and with much greater force, 
than any proceeding with a regular and rational appear- 
ance, to two very material considerations. First, it shows 
that they are of opinion that the current opinions of the 
English have the greatest influence on the minds of the 
people in France, and indeed of all the people in Europe, 
since they catch with such astonishing eagerness at every 
the most trifling show of such opinions in their favour. 
Next, and what appears to me to be full as important, it 
shows that they are willing publicly to countenance, and 
even to adopt every factious conspiracy that can be formed 
in this nation, however low and base in itself, in order to 
excite in the most miserable wretches here an idea of their 
own sovereign importance, and to encourage them to look 
up to France, whenever they may be matured into some- 
thing of more force, for assistance in the subversion of 
their domestic government. This address of the alehouse 
club \vas actually proposed and accepted by the assembly as 
an alliance. The procedure was in my opinion a high 
misdemeanour in those who acted thus in England, if they 
were not so very low and so very base, that no acts of 
theirs can be called high, even as a description of 
criminality; and the assembly, in accepting, proclaiming, 
and publishing this forged alliance, has been guilty of a 



326 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

plain aggression, which would justify our court in demand- 
ing a direct disavowal, if our policy should not lead us to 
wink at it, 

Whilst I look over this paper to have it copied, I see a 
manifesto of the assembly, as a preliminary to a declaration 
of war against the German princes on the Rhine. This 
manifesto contains the whole substance of the French 
politics with regard to foreign states. They have ordered 
it to be circulated amongst the people in every country of 
Europe even previously to its acceptance by the King, 
and his new privy council, the club of the Feuillans. 
Therefore, as a summary of their policy avowed by them- 
selves, let us consider some of the circumstances attending 
that piece, as well as the spirit and temper of the piece 
itself. 

It was preceded by a speech from Brissot, full of 
unexampled insolence towards all the sovereign states of 
Germany, if not of Europe. The assembly, to express their 
satisfaction in the sentiments which it contained, ordered 
it to be printed. This Brissot had been in the lowest and 
basest employ under the deposed monarchy ; a sort of thief- 
taker, or spy of police; in which character he acted after 
the manner of persons in that description. He had been 
employed by his master, the lieutenant de police, for a 
considerable time in London, in the same or some such 
honourable occupation. The revolution, which has 
brought forward all merit of that kind, raised him, with 
others of a similar class and disposition, to fame and 
eminence. On the revolution he became a publisher of 
an infamous newspaper, which he still continues. He is 
charged, and I believe justly, as the first mover of the 
troubles in Hispaniola. There is no wickedness, if I am 
rightly informed, in which he is not versed, and of which 
he is not perfectly capable. His quality of news-writer, 
now an employment of the first dignity in France, and his 
practices and principles, procured his election into the 
assembly, where he is one of the leading members. 
M. Condorcet produced on the same day a draft of a 
declaration to the king, which the assembly published 
before it was presented. 

Condorcet (though no marquis, as he styled himself 
i>efore the revolution) is a man of another sort of birtlij 



THE FIRST DECLARATION 327 

fashion, and occupation from Brissot; but In every prin- 
ciple, and every disposition to the lowest as well as the 
highest and most determined villanies, fully his equal. He 
seconds Brissot in the assembly, and is at once his 
coadjutor and his rival in a newspaper, which> in his own 
name and as successor to M. Garat, a member also of the 
assembly, he has just set up in that empire of gazettes. 
Condorcet was chosen to draw the first declaration pre- 
sented by the assembly to the king 1 , as a threat to the Elector 
of Treves, and the other provinces on the Rhine. In that 
piece, in which both Feuillans and Jacobins concurred, 
they declared publicly, and most proudly and insolently, the 
principle on which they mean to proceed in their future 
disputes with any of the sovereigns of Europe; for they 
say, " that it is not with fire and sword they mean to attack 
their territories, but by what will be more dreadful to them, 
the introduction of liberty." I have not the paper by me 
to give the exact words but I believe they are nearly as 
I state them. Dreadful, indeed, will be their hostility, if 
they should be able to carry it on according to the exampk 
of their modes of introducing liberty. They have shown a 
perfect model of their whole design, very complete, though 
in little. This gang of murderers and savages have wholly 
laid waste and utterly ruined the beautiful and happy 
country of the Comtat Venaissin and the city of Avignon- 
This cruel and treacherous outrage the sovereigns of 
Europe, in my opinion, with a great mistake of their 
honour and interest, have permitted, even without a 
remonstrance, to be carried to the desired point, on the 
principles on which they are now themselves threatened in 
their own states; and this, because, according to the poor 
and narrow spirit now in fashion, their brother sovereign, 
whose subjects have been thus traitorously and inhumanly 
treated in violation of the law of nature and of nations, has 
a name somewhat different from theirs, and instead of 
being styled king, or duke, or landgrave, is usually called 
pope. 

The Electors of Treves and Mentz were frightened with 
the menace of a similar mode of war. The assembly how- 
ever, not thinking that the Electors of Treves and Mentz 
had done enough under their first terror, have again 
brought forward Condorcet, preceded by Brissot, as I have 



328 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

just stated. The declaration, which they have ordered 
now to be circulated in all countries, is in substance the 
same as the first, but still more insolent, because more full 
of detail. There they have the impudence to state that 
they aim at no conquest; insinuating that all the old, 
lawful powers of the world had each made a constant, open 
profession of a design of subduing his neighbours. They 
add, that if they are provoked, their war will be directed 
only against those who assume to be masters. But to the 
people they will bring peace, law, liberty, &c. &c. There 
is not the least hint that they consider those whom they 
call persons "assuming to "be masters," to be the lawful 
government of their country, or persons to be treated with 
the least management or respect. They regard them as 
usurpers and enslavers of the people. If I do not mistake 
they are described by the name of tyrants in Condorcet's 
first draft. I am sure they are so in Brissot's speech, 
ordered by the assembly to be printed at the same time 
and for the same purposes. The whole is in the same 
strain, full of false philosophy and false rhetoric, both, 
however, calculated to captivate and influence the vulgar 
mind, and to excite sedition in the countries in which it 
is ordered to be circulated. Indeed it is such that, if any 
of the lawful, acknowledged sovereigns of Europe had 
publicly ordered such a manifesto to be circulated in the 
dominions of another, the ambassador of that power would 
instantly be ordered to quit every court without an 
audience. 

The powers of Europe have a pretext for concealing 
their fears ? by saying that this language is not used by 
the king ; though they well know that there is in effect no 
such person, that the assembly is in reality, and by that 
king is acknowledged to be, the master; that what he does 
is but matter of formality, and that he can neither cause 
nor hinder, accelerate nor retard, any measure whatsoever, 
nor add to, nor soften the manifesto which the assembly 
has directed to be published, with the declared purpose of 
exciting mutiny and rebellion in the several countries 
governed by these powers. By the generality also of the 
menaces contained in this paper (though infinitely aggra- 
vating the outrage), they hope to remove from each power 
separately the idea of a distinct affront. The persons first 



THE STATE OF FRANCE 5-9 

pointed at by the menace are certainly the princes of 
Germany, who harbour the persecuted house of Bourbon 
and the nobility of France; the declaration, however, is 
general, and goes to every state with which they may have 
a cause of quarrel. But the terror of France has fallen 
upon all nations. A few months since all sovereigns 
seemed disposed to unite against her, at present they all 
seem to combine in her favour. At no period has the 
power of France ever appeared with so formidable an 
aspect. In particular the liberties of the empire can have 
nothing more than an existence the most tottering and 
precarious, whilst France exists with a great power of 
fomenting rebellion, and the greatest In the weakest; but 
with neither power nor disposition to support the smaller 
states in their independence against the attempts of the 
more powerful. 

I wind up all In a full conviction within my own breast, 
and the substance of which I must repeat over and over 
again, that the state of France Is the first consideration 
In the politics of Europe, and of each state, externally as 
well as internally considered. 

Most of the topics I have used are drawn from fear and 
apprehension. Topics derived from fear or addressed to 
it are, I well know, of doubtful appearance. To be sure, 
hope is in general the incitement to action. Alarm some 
men you do not drive them to provide for their security ; 
you put them to a stand ; you induce them, not to take 
measures to prevent the approach of danger, but to remove 
so unpleasant an idea from their minds; you persuade 
them to remain as they are, from a new fear that their 
activity may bring on the apprehended mischief before Its 
time. I confess freely that this evil sometimes happens 
from an overdone precaution ; but It Is when the measures 
are rash, ill chosen, or ill combined, and the effects rather 
of blind terror than of enlightened foresight. But the few 
to whom I wish to submit my thoughts are of a character 
which will enable them to see danger without astonish- 
ment, and to provide against it without perplexity. 

To what lengths this method of circulating mutinous 
manifestoes, and of keeping emissaries of sedition In every 
court under the name of ambassadors, to propagate the 
same principles and to follow the practices, will go, and 



330 THOUGHTS ON FRENCH AFFAIRS 

how soon they will operate, it is hard to say but go on 
it. will more or less rapidly, according to events, and to 

the humour of the time. The princes menaced with the 
revolt of their subjects, at the same time that they have 
obsequiously obeyed the sovereign mandate of the new 
Roman senate, have received with distinction, in a public 
character, ambassadors from those who in the same act had 
circulated the manifesto of sedition in their dominions. 
This was the only thing wanting to the degradation and 
disgrace of the Germanic body. 

The ambassadors from the rights of man, and their 
admission into the diplomatic system, I hold to be a new 
era in this business. It will be the most important step 
yet taken to affect the existence of sovereigns, and the 
higher classes of life I do not mean to exclude its effects 
upon all classes but the first blow is aimed at the more 
prominent parts in the ancient order of things. 

What is to be done? 

It would be presumption in me to do more than to make 
a case. Many things occur. But as they, like all political 
measures, depend on dispositions, tempers, means, and 
external circumstances, for all their effect, not being well 
assured of these, I do not know how to let loose any 
speculations of mine on the subject. The evil is stated, 
in my opinion, as it exists. The remedy must be where 
power, wisdom, and information, I hope, are more united 
with good intentions than they can be with me. I have 
done with this subject, I believe, for ever. It has given 
me many anxious moments for the two last years. If a 
great change is to be made in human affairs, the minds of 
men will be fitted to it; the general opinions and feelings 
will draw that way. Every fear, every hope, will forward 
it ; and ^then they, who persist in opposing this mighty 
current in human affairs, will appear rather to resist the 
decrees of Providence itself, than the mere designs of men. 
They will not be resolute and firm, but perverse and 
obstinate. 



NOTES TO 'THE FRENCH 
REVOLUTION' 



Page i, line 3. A very young gentleman. This was Mons. Dupont, 

who had visited England and become acquainted with Burke. He 
afterwards translated the Reflections into French, 

P. i, 11. 6-7. An answer . . . in October, 1789. See Burke's Corre- 
spondence, III. 102. The letter was written with punctilious care, 
yet was withheld for fear it might be intercepted and bring Dupont 
into peril. The reasons assigned in the short letter will be found In 
the answer referred to. 

P. i, 1. 17. Early in the last spring: i.e. in February 1790, when 
Burke had voiced his sentiments in a parliamentary speech on the 
Army Estimates and the London Chronicle had advertised the 
speedy publication of the Reflections, which was largely in proof, for 
Sir Philip Francis was reading the sheets (Burke's Correspondence, 
III. 128). 

P. 2, L 8. Commodious: convenient, serviceable. 

P. 2, 11. 20-21. Neither for nor from any description of men: like 
the Constitutional Society and the Royal Society mentioned below. 
Burke claims to write from a detached and impartial standpoint, 
though he believes he has on his side the best English opinion. The 
Constitutional Society was founded in 1780 by John Cartwright (1740- 
1824), a naval officer, who afterwards became a major of militia. It 
included many Whig noblemen and circulated not only the works 
of earlier writers on liberty like Sidney and Locke, but more exten- 
sively those of contemporary pamphleteers. The abolition of slavery, 
the emancipation of Greece, and the liberation of Spain from its 
absolute government, were among the objects for which Cartwright 
worked. 

P. 2, 11. 3738. The Revolution Society : had ibeen founded principally 
by Nonconformists in honour of the Revolution of i6SS, and its chair- 
man at this time was Charles Stanhope (third Ear! Stanhope), brother- 
in-law of William Pitt. Lord Stanhope was a Fellow of the Royal 
Society, and his education in Switzerland had given Mm an intense 
love of liberty. His high qualities were marred by an impracticable 
disposition and his able speeches carried no weight with his fellow 
peers. He wrote a reply to Burke's Reflections, Burke says here 
(p. 3) that the members of the Society were not as well acquainted 
with the event that led to its foundation as they might have b^en, 
New recruits (p. 4) had joined it, and it had been re- modelled so s 
to co-operate with the French revolutionaries. 

33* 



332 NOTES 

P. 3, I. 27. As charitably read: implying, of course, that they were 
really not worth reading. 

P* 3> 1* 33* Meliorated: Improved. A more correct form than our 
" ameliorated.*' 

P. 3, 1. 40. National Assembly: sometimes called the Constituent 
Assembly, the first of the revolutionary parliaments in France. It 
sat 1789-1791, and was superseded by the Legislative Assembly. 

P. 5, 11. 35-36. Their signatures ought to have been annexed. It 
was one of Burke 's cardinal tenets that in political affairs men and 
measures should always be considered together. 

P. 6, H. 36-37. The metaphysic knight, etc. : Don Quixote, who 
freed the criminals (Part I. ch. 22), simply on the abstract or meta- 
physical (Burke often omits the "-al" in words of this type) ground 
that every man had a right to liberty. 

P. 6, 1. 40. Wild gas: Crabbe (Tales of the Hall), whom Burke 
had helped in his struggling days, takes up this illustration. He says 
of "the lighter gas" 

"Such is the freedom which when men approve. 

They know not what a dangerous thing they love." 
P. 6, 1. 40. The fixed air: carbonic acid gas had been so called by 

Dr. Joseph Black (1728-1799), the great Scottish chemist, because of 

the readiness with which it fixed itself in many bodies. It is this 
gas which gives liquors their effervescence. 

P. 7, 11. 79. New liberty . . . combined with government: Burke 
applies this test in detail in the second part of the book. 

P. 7, 1. 12. Solidity: safety, stability. 
P. 7, 1. 13. Civil: civic. 

P. 7, I. 34. Dr. Price: Richard Price (17231791), a Nonconformist 
minister, who wrote largely on ethical and economical questions. 
His chief work was a Review of the Principal Questions in Morals, in 
which he criticized the position of Francis Hutcheson. He vigorously 
opposed the war with America in 1776, and was a close friend of 
Benjamin Franklin. He was now near the end of his life ; Burke 
had a grudge against him for his attachment to Lord Shelburne, 
Rockingham's rival. His sermon, which Burke goes on to criticize, 
was " On the Love of our Country,*' and when published had as an 
appendix the Report of the Revolution Society's committee, an account 
of the people of France, and the National Assembly's Declaration of 
Right. The letter of the Duke de Rochefoucault was a private one 
to Dr. Price, that of the Archbishop of Aix (President of the National 
Assembly) an official communication to Earl Stanhope. 

P. 8, 1. 7. Beginnings of confusion in England. Burke was need- 
lessly afraid that theoretical Jacobinism and there was a good deal 
of it in England would produce a revolution like that in France, 
where, however, very strong material causes had been the main factor 
in the upheaval. 

P. 8, 11. 27-28. The affairs . . . perhaps of more than Europe: a 



NOTES 333 

prescient utterance. Through the Revolution the United States of 

America gained Louisiana, and both Africa and Asia came Into the 
scope of N'apoleon's plans and campaigns. 

P. 8, 11.30-31. The most wonderful things, etc. : cp. Johnson in The 
Rambler, 141: "The greatest events may be often traced back to 

slender causes. Petty competition, or casual friendship, the prudence 
of a slave, or the garrulity of a woman, have hastened or retarded the 
revolutions of empire." 

P. 8, 1. 34. Out of nature: unnatural. 

^ P. 9, 11. 6-7. The secular applause of dashing Machiaveliap poli- 
ticians: see p. 78. Niccolo Machiavelii (1469-1530) was secretary of the 
Republic of Florence, 1498-1512. In his great work, The Prince, he 
asserts that to preserve the integrity of the state, a ruler should not 
feel himself bound by any scruples of justice or humanity. 

P 9, 1. 29. Caballers: plotters. The word is really from Cabbala 
or Cabala, a secret science of the Jewish rabbis for Interpreting the 
hidden ^sense of the Hebrew scriptures, in English history the name 
Cabal is especially applied to five unpopular ministers of Charles II. 
(1672), whose initials happened to make up the word. 

P. 9, 1. 33. Philippizes: is on Philip's side or party a reference to 
the great crisis in Greek history, when Philip of Macedon was seeking 
the friendship of Athens and was opposed by Demosthenes. Oracles 
were bribed to give utterances favourable to Philip. 

P. 9, I- 39- Rev- Hugh Peters (1598-1660) : an Independent divine. 
He took his M.A. degree at Cambridge and lived for some years in 
New England as minister at Salem, Massachusetts. On his return 
to England in 1641 he allied himself with the Parliamentary forces 
and won many recruits to Cromwell's army by his preaching. He 
was made a chaplain to the Council of State in 1650, and preached 
regularly at Whitehall during the Protectorate. He was executed 
at Charing Cross in 1660 for having abetted the death of Charles I. 

P. 10, 11. 4-5. Your league in France: the Holy Catholic League, 
organized in 1576 by the Duke of Guise to suppress Protestantism 
in France and prevent the accession of Henry IV. 

P. 10, 11. 5, 6. Our Solemn League and Covenant: the agreement of 
the English Parliament with Scottish representatives, signed in St, 
Margaret's, Westminster, September 25, 1643, by which in return for 
assistance against Charles I. the Scots were guaranteed the security 
of their own National Covenant to maintain Presbyterianism. 

P. 10, 1. 9. Politics and the pulpit. Dr. Price was not the only 
offender. Hardly three months after his famous sermon, i. e. on 
January 30, 1790, the Bishop of Chester preached to the House of 
Lords a violent attack on the French nation in general and the 
National Assembly in particular, for which thanks were voted him. 

P. 10, 11. 27-28. The hint given to a . . . lay -divine. The (third) 
Duke of Graf ton, who was Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, 
had about 1770 written a pamphlet (which Price said was "ascribed 
to a great name and would dignify any name") on the subject of the 



334 NOTES 

Liturgy and the terms of subscription to the Anglican Articles. He 
did much to popularize Griesbach's famous edition of the Greek New 

Testament in England. In his retirement he wrote a defence of 
Unitarianism and an autobiography, first published in complete form. 
in 1899. Among the other lay -divines of rank was Lord Shelburne, 
Burke 's bugbear, who also favoured UBltarianism. 

P. 10, L 31. Seekets: inquirers for truth. Technically the 
"Seekers" were a sect of mystics (seventeenth century) which, accord- 
ing to Richard Baxter, included Roman Catholics and infidels as well 
as Puritans. 

P. io y L 32. Old staple. The use of staple here seems to combine 
the nominal meaning "raw material," and the adjectival "estab- 
lished," "regularly produced for market." 

P. ii, 11. ii 12. The calculating divine. Price wrote a good deal on 
public finance. 

P. ii, 11. 1516. Hoftus siccus: & collection of dried plants. 

P. ii, II. 19-20. Round of . . . dissipations. In Burke 's day the 

London season filled the winter months, lasting from November 
till May. 

P. ii, 11. 20-21. Mess-Johns: an old Scottish term for clergymen. 
Mess is from magister. The former "blessed times (1. 27) were those of 
Hugh Peters. 

P. ii, 11. 35-36. Utinam nugis, etc. "Would that he had spent all 
that time of violence on trifles." Juvenal, Satires, IV. 150. 

P. 12, Ii. 34. Owes his crown to the choice of his people. Price is 
here echoing Rousseau's theory of a primitive social contract, which 
was so repugnant to Burke. 

P. 12, L 7. Meridian: noonday, zenith. Innocent III. (11981216) 
In the same year excommunicated two of the most powerful sovereigns 
in Europe, John of England and the Emperor Otto. 

P. 12, 1. 14. Solidity: validity. Cp. note on p. 7, 1. 12. 

P. 12, 1. 42. Condo et compono, etc. "I amass and arrange my 
stores, so that afterwards I may be able to bring them forth." 

Horace, Epistles, I. i. 12. 

P ; 13, 11. 39-40. An electoral college: college is here used like the 
Latin collegium, an official hoard. 

P. 14, L 10. Bottom in: rest on. 

P. 14, II. 26-28. Lives and fortunes . . . laws of their country. 
Section 8 of the Declaration of Right (usually called the Bill of Rights) 
promises "that they will stand to, maintain and defend their" said 
Majesties . . . with their lives and estates." 

P. 15, L 37. Gipsy predictions: random, fanciful utterances. 

P. 15, L 42. A small and a temporary deviation,, etc. We must 
remember that all through this argument Burke is engaged in a piece 
of special pleading. He does not appear in the rdZe'of an impartial 
judge but as a warm and skilful advocate. As a matter of fact 
though there was very little deviation from formal law in the Revolu* 



NOTES 335 

don of 1688, there was a profound change in the spirit and disposition 
and sentiment of the nation towards the monarchy, and Burke fights 
shy of this very significant fact. 

P. 16, 11. 4, 5. Privilegium non transit in exemplum: a special case 
must not be made a general rule. 

P. 16, 11. 1 6, 17. Eldest born of the issue , . . acknowledged as 
Ms: i.e. of Mary and Anne. A prince, James Francis Edward (the 
Chevalier de St. George), was born in 1688, and rumour (quite ground- 
less) threw doubt upon his legitimacy. 

P. 16, 1. 30. Lord Somers (1651-1716) : was the son of a Worcester- 
shire attorney who rose to high station. In 1688 he was counsel for 
the seven bishops, and in 1689 asserted the virtual abdication of 
James II. and drafted the Bill of Rights. In 1697 he became Lord 
High Chancellor of England* He possessed great influence with 
William III., and later did much to bring about the union with Scot- 
land in 1707. He was a greater lawyer than statesman, though his 
political tracts are models of lucidity. 

P. 16, 1. 32. Address: skill, adroitness. 

P. 16, 1. 33. Solution: dissolution, breach. 

P. 17, 1. 21. Relax the nerves: slacken the sinews. 

P. 17, 1L 32-33. As from a rubric: This again illustrates Burke 's 
emphasis on inheritance, custom and precedent, his regard for law. 
Rubric directions for worship, so called because formerly printed in 
red; hence, anything definitely settled. 

P. 1 8, 1. 12. The limitation of the crown: i.e. to those holding the 
Protestant faith. 

P. 18, 11. 1819. F r themselves and for all their posterity for ever : 
Burke out-Herods Herod here. The Parliament of Elizabeth had a 
well-established right to regulate the succession to the Crown. It was 
pointed out by Joseph Priestley, one of Burke *s most eminent con- 
temporaries, that by denying this power to Parliament, Burke laid 
himself open to a charge of treason under an act framed by his own 
hero, Lord Somers. For the extreme Tory position here assumed 
by Burke, see Swift in the Examiner, No. 16 ; on the otHer side, 
Locke, On Government, Bk. II. ch. 8. 

P. 18, 11. 2122. A better Whig than Lord Somers: yet Somers 
wrote a work on the "Judgment of Whole Kingdoms and Nations/' 
whose very title-page asserts " the rights of the people and parliament 
of Britain to resist and deprive their kings for evil government ** I 

P. 18, i. 28. Aided with: assisted by. 

P. 18, 11. 3738. Limits of abstract . . . (and) . . . moral com- 
petence : a distinction which Burke was always ready to draw, and 
had used in his reasoning on the American revolution. Abstract is 
always a term of depreciation with him ; statesmen have to deal with 
what is practically attainable, not with what is ideally perfect. 

P. 19, 11. 24. The House of Lords is not morally competent . , . to 



33 6 NOTES 

dissolve itself: this dictum was quoted by Henry Grattan in his 
speech against the union of the Irish and English parliaments in 1800. 

P. 19, 1 26. Comtnuni sponsions reipublicoB: the consent of the 
entire commonwealth. 

P. 19, 11. 3031. Mazes of mefaphysic sophistry: another hit at the 
abstract. Sophistry (plausible but fallacious reasoning) takes its name 
from a Greek school of philosophy characterized by such methods, 
Burke here comes perilously near to advocating the slavery of abso- 
lute submission. 

P. 20, 11, 1314. Ancient organized states : (L e. estates), the House 
of Parliament. 

P. 20, L 15. Organic molecules: the constituent parts of the nation, 
including the crown, nobility, gentry, clergy, local officials, traders, 
etc. 

P. 20, 11. 27-31. The law of inheritance . . . questions upon the 
legal principles of hereditary descent. The germ of the hereditary 
principle can be traced in the time of the Witenagemote, who, while 
they had the sole power of electing the king, nearly always confined 
their choice to the royal family, and to the oldest male representative 
If of full age and capacity. The Norman Conquest strengthened the 
Hereditary principle, for men argued to the crown from the analogy 
of a feud'al fief. But the immediate descendants of William I. could 
not plead an hereditary title, and so the old elective theory was 
maintained. William himself went through a form of election, and 
Henry I. declared himself crowned by the general council of the 
barons of the whole realm of England. So with Stephen. In 1199 
the election of John over Arthur shows that the hereditary principle 
vvas not yet established. Edward I. was the first English king whose 
reign dates from the death of his predecessor and commenced before 
coronation. The theory that the king never dies, thus adumbrated, 
was the accepted doctrine by the time of Edward IV. 

The Lancastrian title, however, was purely Parliamentary, though 
Henry IV. showed his regard for hereditary right by claiming to be 
the lineal descendant of Henry III. Henry VIL claimed the crown 
by inherent right and by victory over his enemies, and though his 
title was debatable it is quite possible to maintain that he was king 
by hereditary right. As regards Parliament's power of deposition, it 
may be noted that in the case of James II., where the House of 
Commons declared that James had abdicated the government, the 
Scottish Parliament substituted the term forfeited. 

P. 20, 11. 31-32. Heir per capita . . . heir per stirpes: terms bor- 
rowed from Roman law, though Burke has somewhat changed the 
original significance of the former. He uses it to denote the eldest 
and most worthy of the same blood, a reference to the Celtic system 
of "tanistry," a system which prevailed in Ireland to the time of 
James L, and in which the right of succession lay not with the 
individual but with the family in which It was hereditary, and by the 
family ^the holder of office or lands was elected. This system was 
partly in force in England in early days ; gradually it gave place in 



NOTES 337 

the case of private possessions to that of inheritance per stirpem or 
stirpes, i. e. by direct descent, and the principle was extended to the 
Crown by the lawyers about the middle of the thirteenth century. 
While Edward I. in his proclamation refers to "hereditary succession 
and the will of the nobles," the last words were omitted in the pro- 
clamation of Edward II. Burke elsewhere says the heir per capita. 
bases his right on consanguinity, the heir per stirpes on representa- 
tion, from his standing in the place of his predecessor. 

P. 20, 11. 37-38. Multosque perannos, etc. "For many a year the 
fortune of the house stands firm, and grandslres" grandsires swell the 
pedigree." Virgil (speaking of bees), Georgics, IV. 208. 

P. 21, 11. n~i2. Dragged the bodies of our sovereigns. At the dis- 
solution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. the body of Stephen 
was disinterred at Faversham for the sake of the lead coffin. The 
Roundhead troops committed similar sacrilege in Winchester Cathe- 
dral. Burke naturally does not refer to the Restoration outrages on 
Cromwell's body. 

P. 21, 11. 2425. Statute de tallagio non concedendo : tallage was 
a tax on the towns and demesne lands of the crown, usually levied 
by a poll-tax, e. g. a tallage of 2000 marks levied from London in 
1214. By this statute really an un authoritative extract from the 
Confirmation of the Charters, but held to be a statute by the Petition 
erf Right (1628) no tallage or aid is to be taken without the consent 
of all. 

P. 21, 1. 25. Petition of Right: eleven articles assented to by 
Charles I. in 1628. 

P. 21, 1. 26. Habeas Corpus Act; twenty-one articles passed under 
Charles II. in 1679, dealing especially with illegal imprisonment. 

P. 22, 11. 2628. Sophia . . . daughter of the Princess Elizabeth: 
others, nearer in blood, were passed over because of their Roman 
Catholicism. 

P. 23, 1. 42. Illicit bottoms: bottom is an old term for ship. 
** Illicit bottoms " refers to a contravention of the Act of Navigation 
(1651, repealed in 1849), by which it was sought to confine the carry- 
ing trade of England to English vessels. 

P. 24, I. 25. Exploded fanatics of slavery : like Peter Heylyn (1600 
1662), a great clerical upholder of the Stuart cause, and Sir Robert 
Filmer (d. 1653), wll wrote Pairiarcha, or the Natural Power of 
Kings asserted. 

P. 24, L 30. New fanatics: like Rousseau and Dr. Price. 

P. 26, 1. 5. Aggravated: piled up. 

P. 26, 1. 13. Popular representative: the representatives of the 
people. 

P. 26, 11. 1415. The next great constitutional act : the Act of Settle- 
ment (1701), which rectified some of the hastily drafted provisions of 
the Bill of Rights and dealt with abuses that had sprung up in the 
twelve years since that measure was passed. 



33 8 NOTES 

P. 26, 11. 18-19. #0 pardon . . . pleadable, etc. The question arose 
out of the impeachment of the Earl of Danby for high treason in 
1678. The Lords refused to commit him. because the charge was 
general not specific. When the impeachment was revived in a new 
parliament Danby pleaded the king's pardon, but was, nevertheless,, 
sent to the Tower (April 1679). There he remained until the Lords 
discharged him in 1685, His impeachment is of high constitutional 
importance on several grounds (see Feilden's Constitutional History 
of England, pp. 154, 155), among them that which is here mentioned. 
The Act of Settlement in making this ordinance provides that the 
Crown can pardon offenders after conviction: to allow it to do so 
before judgment was given would be to subvert the doctrine of 
ministerial responsibility. 

P. 26, 11. 32-33, Servant . . sovereign: one of the leading points 
in Rousseau's " Contrat Social." With his Idea of an inalienable 
national sovereignty compare Burke *s idea of king and people as 
equal contracting parties, whose compact creates government and is 
not to be broken by either as long as the original terms of the covenant 
are kept, 

P. 26, L 37. The slave in the old play: Sosla (Terence, Andria, I. 

i. 17) the steward who resents being reminded of his former slavery. 

"This reminder smacks of a reproach. jr 

P. 27, L 31. Babylonian: Babel-like. 

P. 27, 1. 36. The Justicia of Aragon: described in Hallam's Middle 
Ages, cfa. iv. The office was founded early in the twelfth century, 
and about 1350 was endowed by the Cortes (the parliament of 
Aragon, then an independent Spanish kingdom and always noted for 
its stout defence of popular rights) with an authority which "proved 
eventually a more adequate barrier against oppression than any other 
country could boast." The Justicia's functions were in theory similar 
to those of the Lord Chief Justice of England, but in practice more 
important and extensive. 

P. 27, L 39. In this he is not distinguished, etc. No process can 

be granted against the king at Common Law. 

P. 28, 1. 22. Justa bella quibus necessaria: "Wars are righteous in 
so far as they are inevitable " (Livy, IX. i). Livy goes on to say that 
they are inevitable in so far as there is no hope for safety except 

in arms. 

P- 2 9 ! 35- Sir Edward Coke (1552-1634) : solicitor-general, 
speaker of the House of Commons and attorney-general (1592), the 
great rival of Francis Bacon. In 1606 he was made Chief Justice 
of the Common Pleas. He quarrelled with James I. on questions of 
royal prerogative, was removed to the less lucrative office of Chief 
Justice of the King's Bench, 1613, and from the bench altogether in 
1616. As one of the leaders of the parliamentary opposition he helped 
to draw up the Petition of Right in 1628. His writings (Institutes 
of the Laivs of England} are distinguished for erudition and thorough- 
ness rather than by method or order. 

P. 29, 1. 42. Blackstone, Sir William (1723-1780) : a barrister 



NOTES 339 

whose fame was made by his Commentaries on the Laws of Eng- 
land (1765-1770), notable for the "way in which the author handles 
an immense mass of material and unloads it gently upon the reader 
in such quantities as the average man can bear." Like Coke, he sat 
on the Bench of Common Pleas and the King's Bench, but he was 
not a great judge. 

P. 30, 1. 15. Rights of Englishmen; similarly, it was the Americans* 
appeal to law and precedent that had influenced Burke in siding with 
them during their revolution. 

P. 30, 1. 16. Selden, John (1584-1654) : the famous jurist who wrote 
History of lyihes, De Diis Syris, Table Talk, and other works, and 
up to 1649 took a leading part in public affairs on the side of the 
Parliament. The "general theories concerning the rights of men" 
which Selden would know were those of Hooker and Grotius. Selden 
himself wrote On the Law of Nature and of Nations according to the 
Teaching of the Hebrews. 

P- 30, I- 38. Auspicate: initiate or inaugurate with hope of good 
luck. 

P. 31, I. 15. A House of Commons and a people: these were not 
so closely Identified in Burke 's day as in ours, when members are 
little more than delegates of the majority in their respective con- 
stituencies, 

P. 31, 11. 1920. Following nature f which is wisdom: cp. Burke *s 
Third Letter on a Regicide Peace: "Never, no, never, did nature say 
one thing and wisdom say another," a favourite stoic maxim embodied 
in Juvenal's "Nunquam aliud Natura, aliud Sapientia dixit" (Satires, 
XIV. 321). 

P. 31, 11. 20 21. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a 
selfish temper. It was so with the Stuarts and with George III. at 
the beginning of his reign. Burke was never weary of insisting that 
innovation is not necessarily reform. 

P. 31, L 31. Mortmain: the transfer of property to a corporation, 
which is said to be a dead hand, or one that can never part with It 
again. 

P. 31, 11. 37-38. Our political system: with this eloquent passage 
compare Bacon's Essay on Innovations, 

P. 32, 1. 25. Freedom leading in itself to . . . excess. The classical 
description of the vices of unfettered and intoxicated freedom is in 
Plato's Republic, VIIL 563. 

P. 32, L 26. Awful: awesome, awe-inspiring, solemn. 

P. 33, 1. 13. your old states: the States-General, the name given 
to the representative body of the three orders (nobility, clergy, 
burghers) of the French kingdom. 

P. 34, 11. 2-4. Ancestors ... a standard of virtue and wisdom: 
especially in the reign of Louis IX. (St. Louis), 1226-1270, the Golden 
Age of France. 

P. 34, 1. 13. Maroon slaves: fugitive slaves living on the mountains 



34 o NOTES 

in the West Indies (French, marron; Spanish, cimarron, wild; cfma, 
a mountain summit). 

P. 35, U. 4-5. To lead your virtue not to overlay it: I. e. smother, 
stifle. 

P- 35 N. 5-6* A. liberal order of Commons: a middle class refined, 
educated, and broad-minded. 

P- 35 U* 36-37* Fotmdaitons o/ ctwZ freedom in severer manners: 
cp. the Puritan regime of the Cromwellian commonwealth. We may 
remember here that if France "when she let loose the reins of legal 
authority, doubled the licence of a ferocious dissoluteness in manners 
and of an insolent irreligion in opinions and practices,** England did 
exactly the same when, at the Restoration in 1660, she submitted to 
similar reins. 

P. 36, 11. 4-5. Disgraced: displaced. 
P. 36, 1. 6. Most potent topics: strongest arguments. 
P. 36, L 30. Medicine of the state : cp. p. 60, 1L 27-30. 
P. 37, L 8. Two great recognized species: gold and silver. In the 
first days of the Revolution these were largely hoarded, but during 
1791 much of both was invested in England, and three per cent. 
Consols rose from 75 to S8. 

P. 37, 1. 26. The last stake reserved, etc. : rebellion and bloodshed 
are the last desperate remedy, only to be used when all else has 
failed not, as here, before trying legal measures. 



P- 37 ^* 3- T&eir pioneers: the revolutionary writers like 
Rousseau. 

P- 37> ! 34- Shoe-buckles : were among the " patriotic donations " 
further referred to on p. 227. Cp. p. 52, 1. 17. 

P. 38, 1. 23. Engagement: pledge, promise. Burke has in mind the 
theory of episcopal ordination and apostolic succession. 

P. 38, L 27. Tiers ttat: Third Estate the Burghers or Commons 
section in the States-General. Here according to Burke there was 
a complete dearth of the statesman type. 

P. 39, L 24. Six hundred persons. This doubling of the Tiers $tat 
was advocated by the Abb< Sieves and adopted by Necker, the 
financial adviser, in order to outweigh the privileged orders who were 
selfishly resisting necessary taxation. 

P. 39, 11. 33-34. Was soon resolved into that body. The states 
met on May 5, and on June 17 the Tiers Etat resolved itself into the 
National Assembly. 

P. 39, 11. 3639. A great proportion . . . of practitioners of the law. 
These were very numerous in France (Montaigne said they almost 
constituted a Fourth Estate as we to-day say about journalists), 
owing to the varied systems of common law that prevailed in different 
districts. But they were not in a majority in the Etat; out of 652 
members the lawyers numbered 272. There were 162 magistrates of 
lower grades ; the " distinguished magistrates " were represented in 



NOTES 341 

the Estate of the Nobility : and it was the lawyers who best knew 
the condition and need of the people. A Breton advocate, Le 

Chapelier, was President of the Tiers "&tat. 

P. 41, II. 1718. Handful of country clowns . . . not a greater 
number of traders: there were some seventy or eighty farmers and 
perhaps the same number of merchants. Of physicians instead of a 
"pretty considerable" number (I. 27) there were sixteen. Burke 's 

slights on this profession remind us that his favourite French author 
was Moliere. And why should we look for "the natural landed interest 
of the country" in the Tiers Eiat when it was so abundantly repre- 
sented in the nobility. 

P. 42, I. 4. The British House of Commons was not, indeed could 
not be, regarded by Burke for by any one in his day) as an example 
of "popular representation." Things have changed since the Reform 
Bill of 1832 and the extension of the franchise. 

P. 42, 1. 9. Politic; political. 

P. 42, I. 42. Breakers of law in India, etc. A reference to Paul 
Benfield, an Indian trader and servant of the East India Company, 
who acquired a large fortune by trading and money lending. He 
was implicated in a very shady transaction with the Nawab of Arcot 
and was ordered home. His conduct occasioned one of Burke *s 
strongest and most ironic speeches. Benfield became member for 
Cricklade in 1780, and had a number of other boroughs in his pocket. 
He afterwards lost his fortune in speculations, and died in needy 
circumstances in Paris in 1810. 

P. 43, 11. 28-29. Wtfre country curates: curates is used here not in 
our sense of " assistants," but meaning cure's, beneficed clergy. In 
the clergy tat were 48 bishops, 35 abbots and canons, 208 parish 
priests. The lower clergy certainly, as Arthur Young points out, 
benefited by the Revolution. 

P. 44, 11. 20 21. Discontented men of quality: Burke here intends 
not only such Frenchmen as the Duke of Orleans, Mirabeau, de 
Noailles and Talleyrand, but Englishmen of his day, like Lord Stan- 
hope, Lord Lansdowne and the Duke of Bedford. 

P. 44, II. 2526- To be attached to the subdivision, etc. But surely 
caste feeling does not always lead to universalism. 

P. 44, 11. 37-38. The then Earl of Holland: Henry Rich (1590-- 
1649), M.P. for Leicester 1610, who rose rapidly in court favour, 
negotiated the marriage of Charles I. and Henrietta Maria, and as 
Chief Justice in Eyre furthered the illegal claims of Charles. In 
1642 he joined the Parliamentary party, went back to Charles In 
1643, and then back again to the Parliamentary side. la 1648 he 
again took up arms for the king, was captured at St. Neots, July 
1648, and beheaded. 

P. 45, 1. 34. His kinsman, a favourite poet: Edmund Waller, who 
was related to Cromwell through his mother, a sister of John Harop- 
den. He wrote a "Panegyric to my Lord Protector." 

P. 46, 1. 10. Guises: a celebrated French ducal family deriving its 



342 NUT&S 

title from the town of Guise In Aisne. The first duke (Claude, 1496- 
1550) distinguished himself in the service of Francis I. his daughter 
married James V. of Scotland and was mother of Mary Queen of 
Scots. The second (Francis, 1519-1563) rose to high eminence as a 
soldier, and was virtual ruler of France under the feeble rule of 
Francis II., setting himself to crush Protestantism ; in this he was 
helped by his brother Charles (1527-1574), Cardinal of Lorraine, 
perhaps the ablest of the family. Francis's son Henry (15501588) 
rigorously persecuted the Huguenots and was a party to the Massacre 
of St. Bartholomew ; his designs on the French crown led to his 
assassination. His grandson (Henry II., 16141664) was the opponent 
of Richelieu, and finally became Grand Chamberlain to Louis XIV. 

P. 46, L 10. Condes: a collateral branch of the House of Bourbon, 
Louis L, Prince of Conde* (1530-1569), a spirited soldier, who be- 
came a Protestant and opposed the Guises. The second Louis (1621- 
1686), "the great Conde",'* was equally distinguished in arms and In 
letters. Louis Joseph Conde" (1736-1818) did all he could to save 
the monarchy at the Revolution. 

P. 46, 1. 10. Colignis: Gaspard de Coligny (1517-1572), a distin- 
guished French admiral, who worked hard for toleration for the 
Huguenots and was the first victim of the St. Bartholomew Massacre. 

P. 46. L ii. Richelieu, Cardinal (15851642) : minister of Louis 
XIII. and a great statesman, who strove (i) to ruin the Protestants 
as a political power ; (2) to curtail the power of the nobles ; (3) to 
humiliate Austria in the councils of Europe. He had a great genius 
for detailed administration and effected many reforms in finance, 
legislation, and the army. He founded the French Academy. 

P. 46, 1. 13. Henry IV,: 1553-1610, King of France from 1589. 
Better known as Henry of Navarre. 

P. 46, i. 13. Sutty, Duke of (1560-1611) : the fellow campaigner and 
trusty minister of Henry IV. He did much to encourage agriculture 
as the true wealth of France. 

P. 46, 11. 1617. flow "&ery soon France . . . recovered? this has 
been illustrated since Burke *s day, especially by the way France 
emerged from the burden of the great war with Prussia in 1871. 

P. 46, 1. 38. Load : overload ; make top-heavy. 

P. 47, L 5. Oratorical; Burke wrote, quite correctly, oratorial. 

P. 48, 1. i. Woe to the country that refects, etc. : this is bombast. 
Burke himself supported the Test Act, which shut out many capable 
men from the service of their country, and he identifies religion with 
the Established Church. 

P. 48, L 10. No rotation, etc. : referring to the ideas of James 
Harrington (1611-1677) and the plan of Soame Jenyns (1704-1757) 
to have an annual ministry chosen by lot from among thirty picked 
peers and one hundred commoners. 

P. 49, 11. 32-33. Twenty-four million ought to prevail over two 
hundred thousand: similarly to-day It is said that the seven million 
voters who elect the Commons ought to prevail over the six hundred 

peers who represent but themselves. 



NOTES 343 

P. 49, 1. 35. The lamp-post: referring to the street lynchings In 
Paris, when the mob hanged its victims with the ropes which were 
used to suspend the lanterns. 

P. 52, L i. Heroic fortitude towards the sufferers: cp. Pope and 
Swift (Thoughts on Various Subjects) : *' I never knew any man in 
my life who could not bear another's misfortunes perfectly like a 

Christian.*' 

P. 52, L ii. The House of Lords to be voted useless: as it was by 
the Commons on February 6, 1649. 

P. 52, II. 1718. Land tax and malt tax: these taxes brought in 
about two and a half millions, which was all that the navy then cost. 

P- 53 ^* 3- Admire . . . the British Constitution: not so much, 
however, for its theoretical and formal (which Bentham attacked in 
his Fragment on Government in 1775) as its moral basis the good feel- 
ing and unity that prevailed among its component parts and which 
was impossible in the condition of things prevailing in France. 

P. 53, 1. 19. Dr. Price . . . inadequacy of representation. The 
events of the next generation and the Reform Act of 1832 proved 
Price to be justified in spite of Burke's sneer. 

P. 53, 1. 33. Consistency of democrat ists : this has always been 
the case. When the people favour a politician's views they are the 
enlightened source of all power, when they oppose him they are an 
uneducated mob. Even Milton often talks in the style of a Coriolanus. 

P. 55, 11. 1415. A man . . . of great authority: Dr. Priestley in his 
History of the Corruptions of Christianity (1782) strenuously attacked 
the state establishment of religion and its then chief supporter, 
Richard Hurd, Bishop of Worcester. His references to calamities 
appear to be based on the imagery of the Book of Revelation. 

P. 55, 11. 37-38. They have "the rights of men": the school which 
took this phrase for its watchword was founded by John Locke and 
Algernon Sidney, who argued that by nature certain rights belong to 
all men, and these rights have always been enjoyed by Englishmen, 

P. 56, 11. 10-11. Ilia se jactat in aula t etc. "In that hall let JEolus 
bluster, there let him reign when he has closed the dungeon of the 
winds." Virgil, jEneid, I. 140. 

P. 56, 1. 12. Levanter: a strong easterly wind in the Levant. 
(Levant is really the point where the sun rises hence the coasts of 
the Mediterranean east of Italy.) 

P. 57, L 41. A power out of themselves: i.e. outside themselves, an 
eternal power. 

P. 58, 1. 19. Recruit* .* reinforcements. 

P. 59, 11. 5-6. Approved utility: usefulness that has been "proved ** 
or tested and found good. 

P. 60, 11. 1-2. Denominations: denominators, numbers. 

P. 60, 1. 8. Prudence: the Aristotelian $>p&Tj<ns, practical wisdom, 
good sense, thoughtfulness. 



344 



NOTES 



P. 60, 1. ii. Liceat perire poetis: let poets have the right to perists 
if they please. 

P. 60, 1. 13. Ardentem frigidus Mtnam insiluit. " He (Empedocles) 
leapt in cold blood into burning Etna." Horace, Ars *Poetica, 465 f. 

P. 60, I. 15. Franchises of Parnassus: liberties or privileges 
accorded to poets, Parnassus being a mountain in Greece sacred to 
Apollo and the muses. 

P. 60, L 16. Divine: a reference to Dr. Price, who. Burke suggests, 

is like Empedocles (in the legend), discrediting a philosophical career 
by a piece of theatrical fooling. 

P. 60, 1. 37. Cum perimit, etc. "When many a class annihilates 
the cruel despots.** Juvenal, VII. 151. 

P. 60, L 41. High-bred republicans: like the Bedford, Grenville and 
Chatham houses all these had gradually yielded to the seductions of 
the court. 

P. 61, 1. 2. Those of us, etc. : the Rockingham party. 

P. 62, I. 29. Still: in the old adverbial sense of "always," "ever." 

P. 62, 1. 35. Pisgah: the hill from which Moses looked across 

Jordan to the land of Canaan (Deut. xxxiv. i). 

P. 63, 1. 17. Hugh Peters: see note to p. 9, L 39. 
P. 64, I. 33. Well born: noble, high, liberal. 

P. 64, 1. 37. Onondaga: an Indian village in New York state near 
the site of the present town of Syracuse. The Onondagas were one 
of the Iroquois confederacy. Champlain attacked their fortress un- 
successfully in 1615. Burke had written an early book on European 
Settlements in America, drawing his information largely from the 
accounts of French Jesuits who had a mission in Onondaga. 

P. 65, L 1 6. A foreign republic, etc. : i. e. Paris, governed at this 
time by sixty departments, each of which like a Greek city state had 
full power within its own limits, and carried out the measures pro- 
posed in the clubs of the city. 

P. 65, 1. 19. An army, etc, : the National Guards, hastily raised at 

the beginning of July. 

P. 65, I. 38. Catiline : an able but ambitious Roman, who formed an 
unscrupulous conspiracy against the state, the discovery of which by 
Cicero forced him to leave the city and attempt a rebellion. This 
was put down, and Catiline died in the engagement, 62 B.C. 

P. 65, I. 38. Cethegus (C. Cornelius): one of Catiline's fellow con- 
spirators, whose strangling in the Capitol dungeons, urged by Cato 
and Cicero, was opposed as illegal by Julius Caesar. 

P. 66, I. 10. Embracing in their arms, etc. In January 1790 two 
brothers named Agasse were condemned for forging bank-notes. 
While they lay under sentence their brother and cousin were made 
lieutenants of the National Guard and were publicly feasted and 
honoured. 

P. 66. L 20. Explode: cry down the antithesis of applaud. 



NOTES 345 

P. 66, i. 27. Nee color imperii: the quotation, paraphrased in the 
preceding context is from Lucan, Pharsalia, IX. 207. 

P. 66, 11. 2829. ^ po-wer . . . to subvert and destroy: cp. Revela- 
tion xliL 7. 
-P. 66, 1. 35. Institute: institution. 

P. 67, 1. 5. The vessel of the state, etc. : Mirabeau's words quoted 

in the footnote on p. 71. 

P. 67, 1. ii. The blood spilled, etc, Biirnave's remark on hearing 
of the hanging of Foulon and Berthier, two of the innocent gentle- 
men. Barnave was one of the best orators of the Revolution. 

P. 67, 1. 21. Felicitation on ... new year: a deputation from the 
Assembly presented an address to the king and queen on January 3, 
1790, in which they looked forward to presenting him as the friend 
of the people with a collection of laws calculated for his happiness and 
for that of all the French, etc. 

P. 67, L 34. Frippery: (i) second-hand clothes; (2) a second-hand 
clothes shop. 

P. 68, 1. 3. Ordinary : a bishop or his deputy, here the prison 
chaplain. 

P. 68, 1. 10. Leze nation: a phrase, modelled on the familiar lese 
majeste" (treason against the crown), applied by the Assembly to 
treason against the nation. 

P. 68, I. 34. Sentinel: his name, de Miomandre, deserves to be 
recorded. Happily he recovered from his wounds. 

P. 69, 1. 13. These two gentlemen, of the king's bodyguard, were ce 
Huttes and Varicourt. 

P. 69, 1. 27. One of the two palaces: the Tuileries. 

P. 69, I. 32. Theban and Thracian orgies: Thebes was the chief 
city of Boeotia in ancient Greece and is associated in legend with the 
tragic story of GEdipus. The long Latin poem Thebaid is one steady 
record of horrors. Thrace was accounted the most barbarous state 
of Greece. 

P. 69, 11. 3536. Apostle . . . revelations of his otvn: as Paul in 
2 Cor. xii. 14. 

P. 70, 1. 17. Fifth monarchy: certain fanatics at the close of the 
Commonwealth period looked for a coming universal kingdom of which 
Christ was to be the head. They were put down by Cromwell, and 
again soon after the Restoration. 

P. 72, 11. 36-37. A sovereign distinguished, etc. : Maria Theresa, 
Empress of Austria. 

P- 73 1- 3- ^ * s now sixteen or seventeen years: Burke had seen 
the queen in 1774. 

P. 73, 1. 21. Sophisters : sophists; captious, fallacious reasor.ers. 
Burke 's lament over the departed age of chivalry is of a piece with 
the universal longing for "the good old times,*' a longing which is as 
old as it is untrue. 



346 NOTES 

P. 73, 11. 3233. Vice lost half its evil . . . grossness. Burke fre- 
quently expressed this view, but it is an opinion that challenges 
opposition. 

P. 74, 1. 16. Bland assimilation: easy digestion. 

P. 74> 1. 19. The decent drapery of life: Samuel Johnson was fond 

of saying that life was barren enough with all her trappings, and 
men should be cautious about stripping her of them. 

P. 75, 11. 2-3. Groves of their academy : the philosophers of ancient 
Greece used to discourse with their pupils and followers in shady 
groves. Plato's school was in a grove on the Cephissus near Athens. 

P. 75, 1. 6. Mechanic: mechanical, soulless. 

P. 75, L 15. Nan satis est, etc. " For poems to have beauty of style 

is not enough, they must have feeling too.** Horace, Ars Poetica, 90. 

P. 76, II. 910. Two principles. It did not suit Burke here to add 
to the spirit of gentleman (L e. honour) and religion, a third great 

impulse that has guided human affairs, viz. Liberty. 

P. 76, 11. 23-24. Trodden . . . swinish: from Matt. vii. 6. 

P. 77, 1. 17. Geniis (in}cunabula no sir 02 : the cradle of our race 
(Virgil, JEneid, ill. 105). 

P. 78, 11. 5-6. As it has long been observed: 5. e. by Aristotle in his 
definition of tragedy in the Poetics, ch. vi. 

P. 78, !. 14. David Garrick (1717-1779) : one of the most famous 
of EnglXi actors, born at Hereford, buried in Westminster Abbey. 
His irr personation of Richard III. was particularly good. He was 
one of Burke 's intimate friends. 

P. 78, 1. 14. Sarah Siddons (27551831) : England's greatest tragic 
actress, born at Brecon. She was sister of John and Chnrles 
Kemble, and played many parts, excelling in that of Lady Macbeth. 

P. 79, 1. 29. To call his people to a share in government: Burke is 

probably referring not so much to the parliament of Paris as to the 
institution of the provincial assemblies. 

* 79> 1- 33* Thought it necessary to provide force: when he 

arrested certain magistrates. 

P. So, I. 7. Listed with fortune: enlisted in the army of fortune. 
?. So, L 23. Nero: Emperor of Rome, 54-68. His reign was one 

incessant course of profligacy and crime. 

P. 80, 1. 23. Agrippina, mother of Nero, and murdered by him 

after she had incited him to all manner of evil. 

P. So, 1. 23. Louis XI. (1423-1483) : was a thorough despot, cruel 
and trejM-herous, and inaugurated the absolute tyranny that culminated 

In the Revolution. 

P. So, II. 23-24. Charles IX. (1550-1574) : was responsible for the 
Massacre of St. Bartholomew and the persecution of the Huguenots. 

P. So, 1. 25. Patkul: the Russian ambassador at Dresden; had been 
surrendered to Charles XII. under a treaty by Augustus II. f the 



NOTES 347 

deposed King of Poland, and was broken on the wheel in 1707 after 

a form of trial. 

P. So, L 26. Christina (1628-1689) : Queen of Sweden, was the only 
child of Gustavus Adoiphus. She abdicated after a capable rule, and 
spent her last years in artistic and scientific studies in Rome. 
Monaldeschi was an Italian whom she had favoured and then neg- 
lected. He published the story of her intrigues, and was assassinated 
in her presence, October 1657. 

P. 81, 11. lo-ii. Attestation of the flower-de-luce: some French 
courtiers (wearing the Royal fleur-de-lis) had sought refuge in Eng- 
land and were talking scandal about their queen. 

P. 81^ L 12. Lord George Gordon: had been convicted in June 1787 
of libelling the French queen. He evaded immediate arrest by going 
to the Continent, and on his return professed himself a convert to 

Judaism. He was arrested in Birmingham in December for contempt 
of court, and sent to Newgate. The mob that he raised was in 17$ 
in connexion with the " No-popery " riots. 

P. 81, 1. 23. T(h)almud: the Rabbinical exposition of and commen- 
tary on the Jewish scriptures. 

P. ^81, 11. 30-31. Dr. Price has shown us, etc. : a reference to 
Price s mathematical and economical treatises. The thirty -pieces of 
silver are those given to Judas Iscariot by the Jewish officials. The 

Galilean Church is the Roman Catholic Church in France. 

P. 82, 11. 14-15. Slender dyke of twenty-four miles: the Straits ot 

Dover; dyke = ditch. 

P. 83, 1. i. We formerly have had a king of France: John, taken 
by the Black Prince at Poitiers, September 1356. 

P. 83, L 10. Subtilized: transformed, lit. spun or woven. 

P. 83, L 12. Helvetius (1715-1771) : a Parisian of Swiss origin, 
whose book, De I'Esprit, taught that man was a mere animal, guided 
altogether by self-love, the sole principle of morals being sensuous 
gratification. 

P. 83, 1. 28. Blurred shreds : i. e. scribbles. 

P. 84, I. 29. Prejudice, etc. : these ideas were embodied in a collec- 
tion of Essays by Lord Chesterfield and others, published about 1756, 
and no doubt familiar to Burke. 

P. 86, 11. 41-42. This people refused to change their law: Parlia- 
ment repudiated John's surrender of the realm to the pope, and in later 
days, by the Statute of Provisions, declared that the Court of Rome 
had no power to appoint English bishops or incumbents. 

P. 86, 1. 16. Cabal calling itself philosophic: "philosophic" seems 
here to imply free-thinking, the rejection of Christianity. Many of 
the leading thinkers in England (named below by Burke) during the 
eighteenth century had belonged to the "deistic'* school, who had 
advocated a rationalist handling of the returns and beliefs of Chris- 
tianity. They never formulated any system, and indeed can hardly 



348 NOTES 

be called a " school " of thought, though much of their work was 
based on the teaching and spirit of John Locke. 

P. 87, 11. 6-8, Plainness and directness of ... those men who, etc. : 
men like Walpole, Chatham, and Rockingham ; In our own day Salis- 
bury and Campbell-Bannerman. 

P. 87, 1. 31. The Armenian Church: is not now given a place along- 
side the three great divisions of Christianity : Protestant, Roman 
Catholic and Orthodox Eastern (commonly called Greek, the religion 
of Russia, Greece, etc.). Like the Coptic and Abyssinian Churches 

it is treated as a branch of Eastern Christianity. 

P. 88, 1. 5. Alembic : a vessel used by the old chemists in distillation 

P. 88, 1. 35. In ancient Rome: when the Decemvirate was founded, 

commissioners visited Athens, then at the height of its fame under 
Pericles. 

P. 90, 11. i2. To act in trust: so it was said by The Spectator of 
Lord Cromer on his retirement from Egypt, that he had controlled 
all his conduct by the sense that he was a trustee. 

P. 90, 1. 42. Quicquid multis peccatur inultum; whatever wrong is 
wrought by the many, goes unpunished. The quotation is from Lucan 
(Phars. V. 260), and had been used before by Burke in pleading for the 
rioters of 1780. 

P. 91, I. 20. That eternal, immutable law, etc. It was the 
"scholastic" theologians of the Middle Ages who laid down the 
doctrine that in the Divine mind reason and will are identical. 

P. 91, 1. 41. Life-renters: life-tenants. 

P. 92, 1. 3. Entail: the settlement of an estate on a series of heirs so 
that the immediate possessor may not dispose of it. "To cut off the 
entail" is to formally deprive such beneficiaries. 

P. 92, 1. 3. Commit waste: to depreciate the value of an estate by 

felling timber, allowing houses to fall into disrepair, etc. 

P. 92, II. 12-13. No one generation could link ivith the other: cp. 

what Burke says on p. 31. 

P. 93, 1. 18. Hack that aged parent in pieces, etc. On the advice of 

Medea, the daughters of Peleas, King of Thessaly, meted out to 
their father the treatment here described. Hobbes and Cowley had 

used the illustration in a similar way. 

P. 94, 1. 37. Great name: Scipio ; the greater, Cicero. The quota- 
tion is from Scipio 's dream in Cicero's De Republica, Bk. VI. 

P. 95, I. 4. High origin and cast: i.e. caste, descent, birth. 

P. 95, I. 17. Signiory : seigniory the power or authority of an 

overlord. 

P. 97, 1. 12. As ample and as early a share, etc. It may have been 
as ample, but it was certainly not as early. The revival of learning 
and all the new life associated with the Renaissance was very late 
indeed in reaching England. 



NOTES ; 349 

P. 98, L i. Identified the estate of the Church with private property. 

A change from the position taken up by Burke in 1772 when, arguing 
for the repeal of the Act of Uniformity, he maintained that the 
Anglican Church was a voluntary society favoured by the State, and 

that the tithes were a species of public tax. 

P. 98, !. 6. Euripus: the strait between the island of Euboea and 
the mainland where, contrary to most of the Mediterranean Sea, there 
is a considerable rise and fall of tides. 

P. 98, L 24. The gospel's being preached to the poor; see Matt. 

xi. 5. 

P. 98, 1. 42. What imports men: what it concerns men. 

P. 100, 11. 22-23. They can see a bishop of Durham . . . Much of 
what Burke says is sound enough (e. g. on the value of a clergy not 
dependent on the offerings of those whom they may have to rebuke), 
but ^ he does not touch the burning question of the inequality of 
clerical stipends, the vast discrepancy between the income of a bishop 
and that of a curate. 

P. 103, L 13. Academies of the Palais Royal; the courtyard of the 
Palais Royal was the favourite spot for gossip and tub-thumping 
oratory. 

P. 103, L 14. The Jacobins got their name from their meeting-place 
the hall of the old monastery of St. James of Compostella in the 
Rue St. Honore. 

P. 104, 1. 2, Dungeons and iron cages: were much used by Louis 
XI. The iron cage was invented by the bishop of Verdun, and he was 
its first victim. 

P. 106, 1. 10. The jus retractus : the right of recovery, by which 
e. g. the lord could compulsorily repurchase alienated lands which 
had at any previous time formed part of his fief. The French law 
recognized a score of species of this droit de retrain 

P. 106, II. lo-n. Landed property held by the crown. After the 
ordinance of Moulins in 1566, all private estates that became royal 
property were united to the crown lands and so became unalienable. 
In practice they were often alienated, but the jus retractus remained 
and largely nullified the alienation. 

P. 107, I. 2. Commendatory abbeys: abbeys to which (as to sees) 
patrons had the right of presenting their nominees. 

P. 107, 1. 26. The two academies of France: (i) the Academy of 
Sciences (the French Academy) of forty members, founded by Richelieu 
in 1635 ; (2) the Academy of Inscriptions, whose function was to com- 
pose inscriptions in honour of the achievements of Louis XIV, 

P. 107, 1. 28. The Encyclopaedia: was begun by Diderot and d'AIem- 
bert in 1751 with the avowed purpose of propagating rationalist and 
sceptical views of philosophy and religion. It was finished in thirty- 
three vols. by 1780, and contributed largely to fan the fires of the 
Revolution. 



35 o NOTES 

P. 108, 1. 26. Desultory and faint persecution. This was on the 
part of the nobility and clergy. But the Jansenlsts and Jesuits could 
not unite against the common foe, and the committee of supervision 
appointed by the Parliament of Paris was equally helpless. 

P. 109, 11. 3-3. Late king of Prussia; Frederick II. ("the Great"), 
who died in 1786 and was largely imbued with the French spirit, 
being a great friend of Voltaire. 

P. no, L 41. M. Laborde: a Spaniard by birth and afterwards & 
prosperous Bayonne merchant, who became a financial contractor for 
the government of Louis XV, and received a marquisate. Under the 
Reign of Terror in 1794 he was condemned for exporting bullion and 
was guillotined. 

P. in, 1. 6. Duke de Choiseul (1719-1795) : Louis XV. 's "last sub- 
stantial man " had done much to strengthen the Bourbon family com- 
pact and had greatly influenced European politics. He was dismissed 
from power through the jealousy of Madame du Barry, Louis XV. 's 
mistress. 

P. in, L 13. The Duke d'Aiguillon: succeeded Choiseu! as Minister 
for Foreign Affairs. He is remembered for his supineness in the 
partition of Poland. He was the wealthiest of all the French nobles, 
but took the side of the Revolution in the Assembly. The protect- 
ing despotism that saved him, was Madame du Barry. 

P. in, L 18. Noaittes: several members of this old ducal family 
had distinguished themselves in Church and State, e. g. (i) Anne Jules 
(1650-1728), marshal of France, who persecuted the Huguenots ; (2) 
Louis Antoine, his brother (1651-1729), Archbishop of Paris and 
Cardinal; (3) Adrien Maurice (1678-1760), also marshal, who was 
in the War of the Austrian Succession ; (4) his son Louis was a 
private agent of Louis XVI. ; (5) the Vicomte, Louis Marie (1756- 
1804), brother of (4), with the Duke d'Aiguitlon took a leading part 
in the Assembly. 

P. in, 1. 23. The Duke de Rochefoucault: was a famous political 
economist. The Cardinal (see footnote) belonged to another branch 
of the family and was President of the Order of the Clergy in the 
States-General of 1789. 

P. in, L 39. Crudelem illam hastem: it was the custom of the 
Romans to stick a spear in the ground at public auctions, originally 
as a sign of booty gained in battle. 

P. 112, L 26. Mariuses and Syllas: Marius and Sulla were two 
prominent Roman generals of the first century B.C., whose strife 
one with the other involved the city in fearful slaughter for many 
years. 

P. us, L 43. Operose; laborious, tedious. 

P. 116, L 40. Offer of a contribution: the clergy proposed to sur- 
render the tithes, while retaining the Church lands. 

P. 118, 1. 14. The Bank of Discount: had been established by Turgot 
when he was comptroller-general. 



NOTES 35 * 

P. 119, 1. 22, Arcanum: mystery, secret. 

P. ug, !. 31. 1 sort of fine: the sum paid by a tenant in return 

for the favour of a lease or renewal. 

P. 119, i. 32. Gift: the technical term for a grant under the feudal 
system. 

P. 120, 1. 32. judicious check, etc. : yet in Burke *s day the House 
of Commons was largely nominated by the House of Lords. 

P. 121, 1. 8. ,4 direct train: a straight course. The establishment 
of the Directory confirmed Burke 's opinion. 

P. i2i, 1. 13. Purely democratic form, etc. When Burke wrote 

the Republics of Genoa and Venice were in existence as well as the 
Swiss Confederation. 

P. 122, 1. 21. I do not often quote Bolingbroke. Yet to him Burke 
(like Pitt) owed more than he would confess, almost as much indeed 
as, in another way, to Addison. Viscount Bolingbroke (Henry St. 
John) (i678i75i) was Tory prime minister of Queen Anne and the 
friend of Swift and Pope (to whom he suggested the Essay on Man}. 
He wrote " Letters " bearing on politics and literature, and his chief 
fame Is that of a rhetorician. His Ideal of a Patriot King shows him 
at his best. 

P. 123, 1. 2. These abuses accumulated, etc. The existence of these 
abuses was fully known, and Jacques Robert Turgot (1727-1781), 
who was called by Louis XVI. to manage the national finances, had 
thoroughly probed them and planned a scheme providing ior their 
gradual but complete removal. Unfortunately the vested interests 
were too strong for him, and he had to retire after less than two 
years of office. What he would have done peacefully only the shock 
of the Revolution could afterwards effect. And in what follows 
Burke is somewhat astray. The idea of a republic must have had 
its seeds long before 1789, it did not spring up and mature so 
swiftly as he makes out. 

P. 123, 1. 36. Tahmas Kouli Khdn: Burke seems to have in his 
mind Mahmud, the inhuman Afghan conqueror of Persia who, be- 
tween 1722 and 1725, almost depopulated Ispahan. 

P. 124, 1. I. Where the human race melts away, etc. ; as in the 
Congo State at the end of the nineteenth century. 

P. 124, 11. 16-17. Intendants of the generalities: public officials at 
the head of the different districts, something like the English lords- 
lieutenant. 

P. 125, I- 12. Considerable tracts are barren: e.g. the sandy tracts 
on the coasts of Gascony and Languedoc. About seventeen million 
acres out of a total area of 123 million are unproductive. 

P. 125, 1. 17. Lisle: the dense population of this district is doe 
to its having been part of Flanders. Cp. the density of modern 
Belgium. 

P. 126, I. 7. Whole British dominions: i.e. the United Kingdom 
r Great Britain and Ireland. 



352 NOTES 

P. 127, 1. 1213, Her spacious high reads : these, made chiefly under 
Louis XIV. and XV., are still the admiration of Britishers. 

P. 127, 1. 13. Opportunity: fitness, suitability. The first canal in 
France was that which connects the Seine and the Loire, and was 
constructed early in the seventeenth century. The great canal of 
Languedoc connects Narbotirae and Toulouse, the Atlantic and the 
Mediterranean, and was the work of Paul de Riquet under Louis XIV. 

P. 127, 1. iS. Naval apparatus, etc. As de Riquet made the canals 
so Jean Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683), one of the greatest ministers 
France ever had, made the navy, and the Marquis de Louvois the 
army, while Sebastien ie Prestre de Vauban laid the foundations of 
modern fortifications and military engineering not only for France 
but for Europe. 

P, 127, 11. 27-28. Manufactures . . not second (to ours): this 
was especially the case with regard to silk fabrics. 

P. 127, 11. 3031. The arts that "beautify life; music, architecture, 
painting in all these France was leading the world. 

P. 128, 11. 1819. Censurable degree of facility: there is no doubt 
that the king made a good many rash promises (with levity and want 
of judgment) to the working classes, which excited opposition be- 
tween them and the aristocracy. 

P. 129, I. 15. Circean; Circe was the enchantress who, when Ulysses 
and his comrades landed on her island, first infatuated them and then 
changed them (except Ulysses) into swine. 

P. 131, I. 10. At the period when the Hanse-towns, etc. : the 
Hanseatic League was a combination of towns in North-west Germany 
for the mutual protection (i) of their commerce against the Baltic 
pirates, (2) of their liberties against the encroachments of neighbour- 
ing princes. It was founded in 1241, and numbered at the time sixty- 
four cities, now dwindled to three Hamburg, Liibeck and Bremen. 

P. 131, I. 12. Orsini: better known in Italian history as the head 
of the Guelf party in the thirteenth century, and the opponents of 
Pope Alexander VI, at the end of the fifteenth. 

P. 131, 1. 12. Vitetti: this family governed the town of Citta di 
Casteilo (twenty-five miles from Perugia) in the fifteenth century. 
It is worth remembering that they were among the first to patronize 
the painter Raphael. 

P. 131, 11. 14-15. Mamelukes; originally slaves from the Caucasus, 

who became the bodyguard of the Sultan in Egypt, and in time gained 
the supreme power there. They were defeated by Napoleon in 1798, 
and finally annihilated by Mehemet All, who became Viceroy of 
Egypt under the Sultan of Turkey. 

P. 131, 1. 15- Nayres . . . of Malabar; the Nairs are a military 
casce (claiming to rank next to Brahmans) who long held power 
on the Malabar or west coast of India. They were subjected by 
Hyder Ali (father of Tipu Sultan) in 1763. 



NOTES 353 

P. 131, !. 18. Statues of Equity and Mercy: both these virtues 
were ranked among the goddesses of ancient Rome. 

P. 132, II. 8 10. Triumph . . . over . . . a British constitution: 
Maury and others really counselled a constitution on the British 
model. Burke is here really hitting at the English Jacobins, who, 
like the victorious revolutionary party, opposed the constitution. 

P. 132, 11. 35-36. Shed the blood . . upon the scaffold: Henry IV. 
did this with Marshal de Biron. 

P. 132, 1. 39. Merited: received, earned. 

P. 133, 1. 22. Officious: not in our sense of meddlesome, tmt= 
full of good offices, kindly disposed. 

P. 134, 1. 4. Partnership with the farmer. Under this system, 
known as metayage, and still largely practised in India, the land- 
lord advanced stock, seed, etc., and received in return half the 
produce. 

P. 134, 11. 13-15. Civil government . . . not in the hands of the 

nobility: It had passed to the central power, with the further result 
that the people grudged paying the old dues to those who had no 
responsibility of administration. 

P. 135, 1. 28. Ornnes boni, etc, '* True nobility is esteemed by every 
one of us." Cicero, Pro Sextio, IX. 21. 

P. 136, 1. 7. My inquiry concerning your clergy. In these para- 
graphs Burke argues from the good character of the individual clergy 
to their corporate fitness in the administration of government, and 
so confounds two questions that should be considered independently. 
He resembles those apologists for Charles I. who say that because 
he was a kind husband and father we should overlook his faithless- 
ness, perjury and tyranny in public affairs. 

P. 139, 1. 4. The Cardinal of Lorraine: Charles, Duke of Guise 
(see note on p. 46), took a leading part in the Massacre of St. 
Bartholomew. 

P. 139, 1. 37. Teachers of the Palais Royal: see note to p. 103, 
I. 13- 

P. 141, 1. 26. The two great parties: the old faith and the new, 
Catholic and Protestant. 

P. 142, 1. 4. Regulars of both sexes: monks, friars, nuns all who 
live under a monastic rule. The seculars are the clergy who are not 
so bound. 

P. 142, 1. 21. F6nelon (1651-1715): a famous French prelate and 
writer on historical, philosophical, theological and literary subjects. 
He was a remarkable preacher and a man of most benevolent dis- 
position. He became Archbishop of Cambrai in 1695. 

P. 142, 1. 27. A provincial town: Auxerre, capital of the depart- 
ment of Yonne, ninety miles south-east from Paris. 

P. 143, II. 1516. A hundred and twenty bishops: bishops and arch- 
bishops numbered one hundred and thirty-one and were reduced to 



354 NOTES 

eighty-three, one for each department of the country. Of the one 
hundred and thirty-one, forty-eight had seats in the Assembly. 

P. 143, 1. 19. Instances of eminent depravity : e. g. Talleyrand, who 
was Bishop of Autun, and the Abbe" of St. Germain des"Pr<s, who 
under Louis XV. held 2000 benefices, which he sold to the highest 

bidders, spending his revenues In some very unecclesiastlca! directions, 
P. 144, I. 24. Ascertained: made certain, determined, fixed. 

P. 145, 11. 6-7. Enlightened self -interest: a reference to Heivetius 
(see note to p. 83, 1. 12), who has some remarks on Civic Education at 
the end of his book De I' Esprit. 

P, 146, i. i. Burnet, Gilbert (1643-1715) : a native of Aberdeen, and 
professor of divinity in Glasgow. He supported William of Orange 
and was made Bishop of Salisbury. He wrote a History of the 
Reformation, and a History of his Own Times. 

P. 146, L 15. Humour: disposition, spirit. 

P. 146, L 36. Justice and mercy, etc. : see Mlcah. vi. 8. 

P. 147* 5. 25. A common enemy : unbelief, atheism. 

P. 148, 11. 34. I see in a country very near us: cp. what Burke 

said on p. 8 about a neighbour's house being on fire. 

P. 148, i. 8. Doctrine of prescription: custom continued until it be- 
comes a right or has the force of law. 

P. 148, I. 9. Domat, Jean (16251696) : a great French jurist and 
friend of Pascal ; he regarded laws and customs as the reflex of 
political history. 

P. 149, L 19. Anabaptists : a fanatical sect which, originating in the 
Netherlands In the time of the Reformation, afterwards had their 
head-quarters at Munster in Saxony. Their excesses included com- 
munity of goods and of wives. 

P. 150, L 16. Tokens of confraternity and standards r etc. The 
Revolution Society of London was presented by the Patriotic Society 
of Nantes with a banner that the latter had used in one of their 
festivals. It bore a representation of the flags of the two countries 
and the motto "Pacte Universel." 

P. 152, I. 7. Confederacies and correspondences. The footnote 
shows that Burke is thinking of the secret society of the Illuminati, 
the discovery of which produced a panic out of all proportion to its 
importance. The society arose at Ingolstadt in Bavaria as a kind of 
political variety of freemasonry that aimed at combatting the 
obscurantism of the Jesuits. Certain malcontents betrayed the leaders, 
who were punished for infringing an electoral edict against secret 
societies. 

P- *53, II. 16-17. As sophisters represent it: i.e. as the next 
sentences show, as a dilemma between unreformed existence or abso- 
lute destruction. Burke 's middle course would be "to mend," rather 
than to end or to continue the trouble. Cp. p. 155 : " It was your 
business to correct and mitigate everything noxious in this passion 
(superstition) as In all the passions." 



NOTES -355 

P. 153, 11. 20 21. Spartam nactus es ; hanc exorna: "your lot is cast 
in Sparta, be a credit to it"; "having made your bed, now lie on It 

as comfortably as you can. J> The proverb is frequent in Latin litera- 
ture, being taken from the Telephus of Euripides, where it is 
addressed by Agamemnon to Menelaus. 

P. 153, 1. 40. Purchase: advantage in raising bodies, leverage. 

P. 154, I. ii. The winds blow as they list: St. John iii. 8. A 
politician cannot always get his leverage when he wants it ; he is as 
dependent on the gifts of nature or of chance as the sailing-ship was 
on the wind. 

P. 154, 11. 33-40. Steam, electricity, magnetism . . . most powerful 
and most tractable: it would almost seem here that Burke foresaw 
the scientific triumphs of the nineteenth century. 

P. *55 I- 34- Munera Terrce: the gifts of earth (Horace, Odes, II. 
xiv.) ; the things that pass away as opposed to the eternal. 

P. 157, 1. 4. Commendatory allots: those who, like Abbe* Cler- 
rnont of St. Germain des Pres (note to p. 143, 1. 19), held plural livings. 

P. 158, 11. 35-36. Petit maisons : should be petits maisons, probablv 
in the sense of chalets, small houses. Distinguish from petites maisons 
(mentioned, though wrongly spelt, in the footnote on p. 164), which 
means lunatic asylum. 

P. 158, 1. 36. Petit(s) soupers: little suppers (on which much money 
is often spent). 

P. 159, 1. 16. Philosophic spoiler; another hit at the Encyclo- 
paedists. 

P. 160, 1. 10. This letter is grown, etc. At this point Burke, after 
an interval of some months of absorption in parliament, in which he 
opposed several measures of political and religious reform, enters upon 
a distinctly new section of the work and sets himself to criticize (i) 
the capacity and policy of the National Assembly ; (2) their achieve- 
ments in the legislature, administration, the judicature, the army and 
finance. 

P. 160, 11. 1718. My original purpose, etc. : as outlined on p. SS 
and never properly carried through. 

P. 161, 11. 9-10. They have assumed another (sanction and 
authority) : as they were obliged to by the political need of the situa- 
tion. The Long Parliament did the same in the time of Cromwell. 

P. 161, 11. 1819. Great majorities . . . near divisions: Burke has 
some further remarks on the competence of majorities in his Appeal 
from the New to the Old Whigs. He says that to give authority to 
majorities it must be perfectly unanimously and generally understood 
by society that the act of a majority, however small, must be taken 
as the act of the whole. 

P. 161, 11. 38-39. Hardly a year . . . they have made a Revolu- 
tion: but the revolution was not the work of the Assembly : it had 
been growing more and more inevitable for nearly two generations. 

P. 161, 1. 40. Prima fronte: on the face of it. 



356 NOTES 

P. 162, L 15. Pleader; not in the sense of a barrister who argues 
in open court, but rather = draftsman, one who prepares the " pleas'" 
in correct and formal terms. Burke refers to the set prosy speeches 
which were even more in evidence in the Assembly than the eloquence 
which he mentions at the beginning of the next paragraph. 

P. 163, II. 2425. Pater ipse colendi, etc. "The great Father him- 
self would not have the path of tillage an easy one." Virgil, Georgics, 
I. 121. 

P. 163, 11. 2526. He that wrestles with us, etc. : an allusion to 
Jacob and the angel, Genesis xxxii. 24 ff. 

P, 164, 1. 25. Expatiate : in the original sense of u range at large " 
(now limited to speaking or writing). 

P. 164, L 39. The Quinze-mngt(s) : a hospital in Paris for three 
hundred blind men. 

P. 1 66, L 9. Excellence in simplicity: L e. in things regarded in- 
dividually. 

P. 166, L 10. Composition: collectivity. 

P. i66 s I. 19. Some of the philosophers: the schoolmen of the 
Middle Ages. 

P. 166, I. 29. Empiric: an experimenter whose experiments are not 
controlled by education and systematic knowledge, a quack. 

P. 166, L 36. Declamations and buffooneries: like those of Moiiere 
in Le Uedecin Malgrg Lui, and Le Tartuffe, satires on the doctors 
and the clergy respectively. 

P. 167, 1. 9. Complexional disposition: complexional here = tem- 
peramental, habitual. 

P. 167, 1. n. Quadrimanous : or quadrumanous, "having four 

hands/* monkeyish. 

P. 167, L 12. Paradoxes of eloquent writers: like Rousseau, as the 
succeeding sentences show. 

P. 167, L 24. Pede nudo Catonem: Burke quotes from Horace 
(Epistles, I. xix. 12), a gibe against those who think that wine drink- 
ing makes a poet. "Suppose a man with rough and stern counten- 
ance, barefoot and with the texture of a scanty toga, were to ape 
Cato, would he, therefore, reproduce the virtues and morals of Cato? " 
It takes something more than the philosopher's garb to make a 
philosopher. 

P. 169, 11. 16-18. The French . . . propose to divide, etc. But the 
division when accomplished followed natural boundaries not 

geometrical lines. 

P. 170, 1. 3. System of Empedocles and Buff on: Empedocles (cp. 
p. 60) of Sicily (c. 490-430 B.C.) conceived the story of the universe as 
an everlasting evolution, a series of endless cycles in which the two 
motive principles, love and hate, alternately prevail over the four 
elements fire, air, earth and water. 



NOTES 357 

P. 170, 1. 3. Bu-jfon (1707-1780) ; the great French naturalist who 
arranged the animal world in orders, genera and species. 

P. 170, 1. 27. A third for her dower: the fraction of a husband T s 
real estate to which a widow is entitled. 

P. 170, II. 40-41. But softby regular degrees, not yet; from 

Pope's Moral Essays, XV. 129. 

P. 174, I. 3. Servius Tullius: was the sixth king ol Rome (578- 
534 B.C.), and divided the Roman territory into thirty "tribes/ 1 and 
the people into five^ " classes,*' from the richest to the poorest* and as 
any man became rich, so he had power in the state, though he were 
lowly born. 

P. 174, 11. 30-31. Eighteen limes a day; the old French livre was 
about the value of a franc (g$d.), by which it was superseded in 1795. 

P. 178, 1. 29. Hominem non sapiunt; they do not take cognizance of 
man. 

P. 179, 11. 4-5. Such governments do exist in the world: e. g. in the 

United States of America, in Switzerland and (in Burke 's day) in 
Holland. In each case it was the revolt from an external despotism 
that was the necessitating cause. 

P. 179, 11. 29-30. The Romans freed Greece, Macedon, etc. In 196 
B.C. Rome having subjugated the Greek states proclaimed them free, 
giving them the opportunity to justify their old reputation for self- 
government. The difficulties became apparent when the liberated 
districts were distributed among existing political organizations. The 
degenerate Greeks failed to work out their own salvation, and in 148 
B.C. their country was incorporated in the Roman province of Macedon. 

P. 179, I. 39. Civil habitudes; civic manners. 

P. 180, 11. 15-16. Fades Hlppocratica; the consumptive face, so 
called because of the description of its symptoms (sunken eyes, sharp 
nose and ears, etc.) by Hippocrates, "the father of medicine," who 
lived in the fifth century B.C. 

P. 180, 1. 21. The metaphysics of an undergraduate were very 
different a century ago from what they are to-day. 

P. 181, 1. 17. Montesquieu t Baron de (1689-1755) : an illustrious 
French thinker, remembered chiefly by his Esprit des Lois, wrote 
also an able work on The Causes of the Grandeur of the Romans and 
their Declension. 

P. 181, 1* 34. The troll of their categorical table: L e. the recitation 
of the table or list of categories the classes under which objects of 
philosophy are systematically arranged. 

P. 182, 11. 16-17. If monarchy should ever again obtain ascendency: 
the unfettered despotism of Napoleon proves the marvellous prescience 
of Burke *s opinion. 

P. 184, 1. 6. A trustee for the whole. This is truer of the British 
House of Commons to-day than in Burke *s time, when the interests 



360 NOTES 

P. 216, 1. 17. Debauching: in the (now rare) transitive sense, "to 
lead away from duty or allegiance." 

P. 217, I. ii. Marquis de la Fayette (1757-1834) : after aiding the 
Americans in their War of Independence, returned to France and 
was made commander-in-chief of the National Guard In Paris. He 
tried to model the new constitution on American lines. Burke refer- 
to the revolution custom of dubbing every one "Citizen ." 

P. 220,1. 28. Swcfe tinfeathered two-legged things: Plato's humorous 
definition of man {&av diirow farrtpov), a two-focted animal with- 
out wings. Dryden used the phrase in Absuiom and Achitopkcl 
(1. 170) in describing the son of the Earl of Shaftesbury. 

P. 222, L io. Gazelles: the excise duties upon salt. See p. 226. 

P. 223, 1. 7. The sy stasis of Crete : the union or confederation made 
by the cities of Crete (otherwise engaged in fighting each other) in 
face of a common foe, 

P. 225, 11. 24-25. Cedo qui uestram, etc. " In what way, pray, 
did you lose your commonwealth which was so great?*' Cicero, 
De Senectute, VI. 20. 

P. 227, 1. 13. John Doe and Richard Roe: names of an Imaginary 
plaintiff and defendant in old legal actions ; the proverbial term for 
a legal fiction. 

P. 227, L 26. St. Simon, Louis de Rouvroy, Duke of (i^-^S^K 
a French courtier and diplomatist in the reign of Louis XIV. ; his 
Memoirs depict with remarkable sagacity the court life of his age. 
He was the grand-uncle of the Count St. Simon who is known as 
the founder of French Socialism. 

P. 227, 11. 3233- A season for disposition and providence: an 
opportunity for planning and providing. 

P. 230, 1. 21. Hermetic: belonging to alchemy, magical, secret. 

P. 230, 1. 23. Mummy: here used in the obsolete sense of a 
medicinal gum. 

P. 231, 11. 5-7. Mais 51 maladia, etc. An adaptation of the closing 
scene of Moliere's Malade Imaginaire, where a candidate ^ for the 
degree of Bachelor of Medicine is examined in dog-latin. He is asked 
as to the remedy for various diseases, and gives the same answer : 
"Clysterium donare, postea segnare, ensuita purgare." So, says 
Burke, for all the evils in the state the one remedy of these quack 
legislators is assignats or paper currency. 

P. 231, 1. 19. Pious and venerable prelate: a sharp gibe at Talley- 
rand. 

P. 237, L 33. Credat who will: let him believe it who will. Horace 
in Satires, I. v. 100, refers to a Jew Apella who might be credulous 
enough to believe that at the entrance of the temple in Egnatla frank- 
incense melts without fire. But, says Burke, no Jew would believe 
assignats to be as good as cash. 

P. 237, 11. 36-37. Fraudulent exhibitions of Mr. Law: see note 
to p. 189, 11. 2-3. 



NOTES &* 

P. 238, 1. 16. Nuzzling; blindly following his nose. 

P. 239, !. 37. Cold, dry, petnfic mace: from Paradise Lost, X. 

293 the weapon with which Death strikes the soil. "Petrific" 
changing animal and vegetable substances into stone. 

P. 241, 1. 14. Tontines: a kind of life annuity, increasing as the 
subscribers die, loans raised with the benefit of survivorship. (From 
Lorenzo Tonti, a Neapolitan, who invented the system.) 

P. 241, 1. 30. "All-atoning name." The quotation is from Dryden's 
Absalom and Achitophel (1. 179). He says Shaftesbury "usurped a 
patriot's all-atoning name." 

P. 241, 1. 42. Fine raptures of Lucan. Lucan (3965 A.D.), a Latin 
poet, born at Cordova, was a nephew of Seneca. His poems contain 
so many " grand swelling sentiments of liberty " that they were with- 
held from the Dauphin. 

P. 241, 1. 42. Corneille, Pierre (1606-1684): "the father of French 
tragedy." Goethe said that he " delineated great men ; Racine, men 
of eminent rank." Burke is perhaps thinking especially of his play 
Cinna. 

P. 244, 1. 17. One of our poets: Addison in his tragedy, Cato, V. I. 
The French constitution did indeed pass through "fire and blood." 



By ERNEST RHYS 

VICTOR HUGO said a Library was ( an act of faith/ and 
another writer spoke of one so beautiful., so perfect, so 
harmonious in all its parts, that he who made it was smitten 
with a passion. In that faith Everyman's Library was planned 
out originally on a large scale; and the idea was to make it 
conform as far as possible to a perfect scheme. However, per- 
fection is a thing to be aimed at and not to be achieved in this 
difficult world; and since the first volumes appeared there have 
been many interruptions, chief among them Wars, during which 
even the City of Books feels the great commotion. But the 
series always gets back into its oM stride. 

One of the practical expedients in the original plan was to 
divide the volumes into separate sections, as Biography, Fiction* 
History, Belles-lettres, Poetry, Philosophy, Romance, and so 
forth; with a shelf for Young People. The largest slice of this 
huge provision of nearly a thousand volumes is, as a matter of 
course, given to the tyrranous demands of fiction. But in 
carrying out the scheme, publishers and editors contrived to 
keep in mind that books, Mke men and women, have their 
elective affinities. The present volume, for instance, will be 
found to have its companion books, both in the same class and 



not less significantly in other sections. With that idea too. 
novels like Walter Scott's Ivanhoe and Fortunes of Nigel, 
Lytton's Harold, and Dickens's Tale of Two Cities, have been 
used as pioneers of history and treated as a sort of holiday 
history books. For in our day history is tending to grow more 
documentary and less literary; and 'the historian who is a 
stylist/ as one of our contributors, the late Thomas Seccombe, 
said, 'will soon be regarded as a kind of Phoenix/ 

As for history, Everyman's Library has been eclectic enough 
to choose its historians from every school in turn, including 
Gibbon, Grote, Finlay, Macaulay, Motley, and Prescott, while 
among earlier books may be found the Venerable Bede and the 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. On the classic shelf too, there is a 
Livy in an admirable translation by Canon Roberts, and Caesar, 
Tacitus, Thucydides, and Herodotus are not forgotten. 

'You only, Books/ said Richard de Bury, 'are liberal and 
independent; you give to all who ask/ The variety of authors 
old and new, the wisdom and the wit at the disposal of Everyman 
in his own Library, may even,, at times, seem all but embarrass- 
ing. In the Essays, for instance, he may turn to Dick Steele in 
The Spectator and learn how Cleomira dances, when the elegance 
of her motion is unimaginable and *her eyes are chastised with 
the simplicity and innocence of her thoughts/ Or he may take 
A Century of Essays , as a key to a whole roomful oi the English 
Essayists, from Bacon to Addison, Elia to Augustine Birrell. 
These are the golden gossips of literature, the writers who ieamt 
the delightful art of talking on paper. Or again, the reader 
who has the right spirit and looks on all literature as a great 
adventure may dive back into the classics, and in Plato's 
Pkaednts read how every soul is divided into three parts (like 
Caesar's Gaul). The poets next, and he may turn to the finest 
critic of Victorian times, Matthew Arnold, as their showman, 



3 

and find in Ms essay on Maurice de Guerin a due to the t magical 
power of poetry/ as in Shakespeare, with his 

daffodils 

That come before the swallow dares, and take 
The winds of March with beauty. 

Hazlitt's Table Talk may help us again to discover the 
relationship of author to author, which is another form of the 
Friendship of Books. His incomparable essay, *On Going a 
Journey/ is a capital prelude to Coleridge's Biograpkm Liter -aria; 
and so throughout the long labyrinth of the Library shelves 
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the hidden treasury. In that way a reader becomes his own 
critic and Doctor of Letters, and may turn to the Byron review 
in Macaulay's Essays as a prelude to the three volumes of 
Byron's own poems, remembering that the poet whom Europe 
loved more than England did was, as Macaulay said, 'the 
beginning, the middle and the end of all his own poetry/ This 
brings us to the provoking reflection that it is the obvious 
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the signal successes out of the many hundreds in the series, for 
Everyman is distinctly proverbial in his tastes. He likes best 
of all an old author who has worn well or a comparatively new 
author who has gained something like newspaper notoriety. 
In attempting to lead him on from the good books that are 
known to those that are less known, the publishers may have 
at times been even too adventurous. But the elect reader is 
or ought to be a party to this conspiracy of books and book- 
men. He can make it possible, by his help and his co-operative 
zest, to add still more authors, old and new. * Infinite riches in 
a little room/ as the saying is, will be the reward of every 
citizen who helps year by year to build the Gty of Books. 
With such a belief in its possibilities the old Chief 0. M, Dent") 



threw himself into the enterprise. With the zeal of a true 
book-lover, he thought that books might he alive and pro- 
ductive as dragons' teeth, which, being *sown up and down 
the land^ might chance to spring up armed men/ That is a 
great idea, and it means a fighting campaign in which every 
new reader who buys a volume, counts as a recruit. 

To him all books which lay 
Their sure foundation in the heart of man . . 
From Homer the great Thunderer^ to the voice 
That roars along the bed of Jewish song . . 
Shall speak as Powers for ever to be hallowed ! 



EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY 

A CLASSIFIED LIST OF THE 983 VOLUMES 

In each of the thirteen classifications in this list (except BIOGRAPHY) 
the volumes ate arranged alphabetically under the authors' names. 
but Anthologies and works by various hands are listed under titles. 
Where authors appear in more than one seftion, a cross-reference 
is given, viz. : (See also FICTION). The number at the end of each 
item is the number of the volume in the series. 

BIOGRAPHY 

Audubon the Naturalist, Life and Adventures of. By R.Buchanan. 601 
Baxter (Richard), Autobiography of. Ed. by ROT. J. M. Lloyd Thomas. 868 
Beaconsfleld (Lord), Life of. By J. A. Fronde. 666 
Berlioz (Hector), Life of. Translated by Katherine F. Boult. 602 
Blackwell (Dr. Elizabeth) : Pioneer Work for Women. With an Introduc- 
tion by Mrs. Fawcett. 667 
Blake (William), Life of. By Alexander Gflchrist. Edited by Ruthven 

Todd. 971 (See abo POETRY AND DRAMA) 
Bronte (Charlotte), Life of . By Mrs. Gaskell. Intro, by May Sinclair. 218 

(See also FICTION) 
Browning (Eobert), Life of. By E. Dowden. 701 

(See also POETRY ANI> DRAMA) 

Bnmey (Fanny), Diary. A selection edited by Lewis Gibbs. 960 
Burns (Robert), Life of. By J. G. Lockhart. Intro, by E. Rhys. 156 

(See also POETRY AND DRAMA) 

Buxton (Sir Thomas Fowell), Memoirs of. Ed. by Charles Buxtonu 773 
Byron's Letters. Introduction by Andr6 Maurois. 931 

(See also POETRY AND DRAMA) 

Carey (William), Life of: Shoemaker and Missionary. By George Smith, 395 
Carlyle's Letters and Speeches of Cromwell. 3 YO!S. 266-8 

Reminiscences. 875 (See also ESSAYS and HISTOBY) 
Cellini's (Benvenuto) Autobiography. 51 
Gibber's (Colley) An Apology for his Life. 668 
Columbus, Life of. By Sir Arthur Helps. 332 
Constable (John), Memoirs of. By C. R. Leslie, R.A. 563 
Cowper (William), Selected Letters of. Intro, by W. Hadley, M.A. 774 

(See also POETRY AND DRAMA) 
De Quincey/a Reminiscences of the Lake Poets. Intro, by E. Rhys. 183 

(See also ESSAYS) 

De Retz (Cardinal): Memoirs. By Himself. 2 Tola. 735-6 
Dickens (Charles), Life of. By John Forster. Introduction by G. K. 

Chesterton. 2 vols. 781-2 (See also FICTION) 
Disraeli (Benjamin), Life of. By J. A. Fronde. 666 
Evelyn's Diary. 2 vols. Introduction by G. W. E. Russell. 220-1 
Fox (George), Journal of. Text revised by Norman Penney. 754 
Franklin's (Benjamin) Autobiography. 316 

Gibbon (Edward), Autobiography of. 511 (See. also HISTORY) 
Gladstone, Life of. By G. W. E. Russell (* Onlooker '). 661 
Goethe, Life of. By G, H. Lewes. Intro, by Havelock Ellis. 289 
Hastings (Warren), Life of. By Capt. L. J. Trotter. 452 
Hodson of Hodson's Horse. By Capt. L. J. Trotter. 401 [958 

Hudson (W. H.), Far Away and Long Ago. Autobiography of bis youth, 
HutcbJnson (Col.), Memoirs of. Intro. Monograph by F. P. G. Guizot. 311 
Johnson (Dr. Samuel), Life of. By James BoewelL 2 vols. 1-2 

Lives of the Poets. 770-1 (See also TRAVBL) 

Keats (John), Life and Letters of. By Lord Houghton. Introduction 

by R. Lynd. 801 (See also POETRY AND DRAMA) 
Lamb (Charles), Letters of. 2 vols. 342-3 

(See also ESSAYS and FOR YOUNG PEOFUE) 

Lincoln (Abraham), Life of. By Henry Bryan Binns. 783 (See also ORATORY) 
Mahomet, Life of . By Washington Irving. Intro. Prof . E. V. Arnold. 513 

Isstted August 1946 Tbff Publishers regret tbat t owing io wartime shortages* 

some of the volumes are temporarily out of print 



EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY CLASSIFIED LIST 

BIOGRAPHY continued 

Mazzinl, Life of. By Bolton King, M.A. 562 

Mozart, Life of. By Edward Holmes. Intro, by Ernest Newman. 56* 

Napoleon, Life of. By J. G. Lockhart. 3 

Nelson, Life of. By Robert Southey. 52 

Newcastle (First Duke of), Life of, and other writings. By the Duchess 

of Newcastle. 722 

Outran* (Sir J,), The Bayard of India. By Capt. L. J. Trotter. 390 
Pepys's Diary. Lord Braybrooke's 1854 ed. 2 vols. 53-4 
Plutarch's Lives of Noble Greeks and Romans. Dryden's Translation. 
Revised, with Introduction, by Arthur Hugh dough. 3 vols. 407-9 
Rousseau, Confessions of. 2 vols. 859-60 

Scott (Sir Walter), Life of (abridged). By J. G. Lockhart. 55 
Scott's Lives of the Novelists. Introduction by George Saintsbury. 331 

(See cdso FICTION and POETRY) 
Seebohm (Frederic): The Oxford Reformers. 665 
Shakespeare, Life and Work of. By Oliphant Smeaton. 514 

(See also POETTRTT AND DRAMA) 

Swift's Journal to Stella. Newly deciphered and edited by J. K. Moor- 
head, Introduction by Sir Walter Scott. 757 

(See cdso ESSAYS and FICTION) 

Vasarl's Lives of the Painters. Trans, by A. B. Hinds. 4 vols. 784-7 
Voltaire's Lile of Charles XTL Introduction by Rt. Hon. J. Burns. 270 

(See also FICTION) 

Walpole (Horace), Selected Letters of. Intro, by W. Hadley, M.A. 775 
Wellington, Life of. By G. R. Gleig. 341 

Wesley's Journal. 4 vols. Intro, by Rev. F. W. Macdonald. 105-8 
Woolman's (John) Journal and Other Papers, Introduction by Vida D. 
Scudder. 402 

CLASSICAL 

jfKschylus* Lyrical Dramas. Translated by Professor J. S. Blackie. 62 
Aristophanes* The Frogs, The Clouds, The Thesmophorians. 516 

The Aeharnians, The Knights, and The Birds. Frere's 

Translation. Introduction by John P, Maine. 344 
Aristotle's Politics. Introduction by A. D. Lindsay. 605 

, Poetics, etc., and Demetrius on Style, etc. Edited by Rev. T. A. 

MoTon. 901 
((See also PHILOSOPHY) 
Caesar's The Gallic War and Other Commentaries. Translated by W. A. 

McDevitte. 702 

Cicero's Essays and Select Letters. Intro. Note by de Qnlncey. 345 
Epictetus, Moral Discourses, etc. Elizabeth Carter's Translation. Edited 

by W. H. D. Rouse, M.A. 404 

Euripides* Plays in 2 vols. Introduction by V. R. Reynolds. Translated 
by M. Wodhull and R. Potter, with Shelley's * Cyclops ' and Dean 
Mil man's * Bacchanals.* 63, 271 

Herodotus. Rawlinson's Translation, omitting his Essays, and Appen- 
dices. Edited, with Intro., by E. H. Biakeney, M.A. 2 vols. 405-6 
Homer's Iliad. Lord Derby's Translation. 453 

Odyssey. William Cowper's Translation. 454 
Horace. Complete Poetical Works. 515 

Hutchinson's (W, M. L.) The Muses' Pageant. 3 vols. 581, 606, and 671 
Livy's History of Rome. Vols. I VI. Translated by Rev. Canon Roberts. 

603, 669, 670, 749, 755, and 756 

Lucretius: On the Nature of Things. Translated by W. E. Leonard. 750 
Marcus Aurelius* Meditations. Introduction by W. H. D. Rouse. 9 
Ovid : Selected Works. Edited by J. C. and M. J. Thornton. 955 
Plato's Dialogues. 2 vols. Introduction by A. D. Lindsay. 456-7 

Republic. Translated, with an Introduction, by A. D. Lindsay. 64 
Plutarch's Moralia. 20 Essays translated by Philemon Holland. 565 
Sophocles* Dramas. Translated by Sir G. Young, Bart. 114 
Thucy aides* Peloponnesian War. Crawley*s Translation. 455 
Virgil's ^neid. Translated by E. Fairfax -Taylor. 161 

Eclogues and Gteorgics. Translated by T. F. Royds, M.A, 222 
Xenophon's Cyropaedia. Translation revised by Miss F. M. StawelL 672 



EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY CLASSIFIED LIST 

ESSAYS AND BELLES-LETTRES 

Anthology of Prose. Compiled and Edited by Miss S. L. Edwards. 675 
Arnold's (Matthew) Essays. Introduction by G. K. Chesterton. 115 

, Study of Celtic Literature, and other Critical Essays. 

with Supplement by Lord Strangford, etc. 458 

(See also POETRY) 
Bacon's Essays. Introduction by Oliphant Smeaton. 10 

(.See also PHILOSOPHY) 

Bagebot's Literary Studies. 2 vols. Intro, by George Sampson. 520-1 
Belloc's (Hilaire) Stories, Essays, and Poems. 948 
Brown's Rab and his Friends, etc. 116 

Burke's Reflections on the French Revolution and contingent Essays. 
Introduction by A. J. Grieve, M.A. 460 

(See also ORATORY) 

Canton's (William) The Invisible Playmate, W. V. Her Book, and In 
Memory of W. V. 566 

(See also FOB YOUNG PEOPLE) 
Carlyle's Essays. 2 vols. With Notes by J. Russell Lowell. 703-4 

Past and Present. Introduction by R. W. Emerson. 608 
Sartor Resartus and Heroes and Hero Worship. 278 

(See also BIOGRAPHY and HISTORY) 

Castlglione's The Courtier. Translated by Sir Thomas Hoby. Intro- 
duction by W. H. D. Rouse. 807 

Century of Essays, A. An Anthology of English Essayists. 663 
Chesterfield's (Lord) Letters to his Son. 823 
Chesterton's (G. K.) Stories, Essays, and Poems. 913 
Coleridge's Biographia Literaria. Introduction by Arthur Symons. II 
Essays and Lectures on Shakespeare, etc. 162 

(See also POETRY) 

De la Mare's (Walter) Stories, Essays, and Poems. 940 
De Quinoey*s (Thomas) Opium Eater. Intro, by Sir G. Douglas. S23 
The English Mail Coach and Other Writings. 

Introduction by S. Hill Burton. 609 
(See also BIOGRAPHY) 

Dryden*s Dramatic Essays. With an Introduction, by W. H. Hudson. 56S 
Elyot's Gouernour. Intro, and Glossary by Prof, Foster Watson. 22T 
Emerson's Essays. First and Second Series. 12 

Nature, Conduct of Life, Essays from the * Dial.' 322 
Representative Men. Introduction by E. Rhys. 278 
Society and Solitude and Other Essays. 567 

(See also POETRY) 

Florio's Montaigne. Introduction by A. R. Waller, MJL. 3 Tola. 440-3 
Froude's Short Studies. Vols. I and II. 13, 705 

(See also HISTORY and BIOGRAPHY) 

Gilnllan'B Literary Portraits. Intro, by Sir W. Robertson Nicoll. 348 
Goethe's Conversations with Eckermann. Intro, by Havelock E1U*. 
851 

(See also FICTION and POETRY) 
Goldsmith's Citizen of the World and The Bee. Intro, by R. Church . 90 ** 

(See also FICTION and POETRY) 
Hamilton's The Federalist. 519 
Hazlitt's Lectures on th English Comic Writers. 411 

The Round Table and Shakespeare's Characters. 65 
Spirit of the Age and Lectures on English Poets. 459 
Table Talk. 321 

Plain Speaker. Introduction by P. P. Howe. 814 
Holmes's Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. 66 
Poet at the Breakfast Table. 68 
Professor at the Breakfast Table. 67 
Hudson's (W. H.) A Shepherd's Life. Introduction by Ernest Rhys. 926 
Hunt's (Leigh) Selected Essays. Introduction by J. B. Priestley. 82 
Huxley's (Aldous) Stories, Essays, and Poems. 935 
Irvlng*s Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon. 117 

(See also BIOGRAPHY and HISTORY) 
Lamb's Essays of Ella. Introduction by Augustine Binrell. 14 

(See also BIOGRAPHY and FOR YOTTNG PEOPLES) 

Lander's Imaginary Conversations and Poems: A selection. Editeo 
with Introduction by Havelock Ellis. 890 

a 



EVERYMAN'S LIBRARY CLASSIFIED LIST 

ESSAYS AND BELLES-LETTRES continued 

Lawrence's (D. H-), Stories, Essays, and Poems. Edited by DesmoasI 

Hawkins. 958 

Lowell's (James Russell) Among My Books. 607 

Macaulay's Essays. 2 vols. Introduction by A. J. Grieve, M.A. 225-^3 
Miscellaneous Essays and The Lays of Ancient Rome. 439 

(See also HISTORY and OKATOBY) 
MachlaTelli's Prince. Special Trans, and Intro, by W. K- Marriott. 280 

{See also HISTORY) 

Martmengo-Cesaresco (Countess): Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs. 673 
Mazzini's Duties of Man, etc. Introduction by Thomas Jones, M.A. 224 
Milton's Areopagitica, etc. Introduction by Professor G. E. Vaughan. 795 

(See also POETRY) 

Mitford's Our Village. Edited, with Intro., by Sir John Squire. 927 
Montagu's (Lady) Letters. Introduction by R. Brimley Johnson. 69 
Newman's On the Scope and Nature of University Education, and & 
paper on Christianity and Scientific Investigation. Introduction by 
Wilfred Ward. 723 

(See also PHILOSOPHY) 

Osbome's (Dorothy) Letters to Sir William Temple. Edited and con- 
notated by Judge Parry. 674 

Penn'B The Peace of Europe, Some Fruits of Solitude, etc. 7*24 
Prelude to Poetry, The. Edited by Ernest Rhys. 789 
Quiller-Couch*s (Sir Arthur) Cambridge Lectures. 674 

(See also FICTION) 

Reynold's Discourses. Introduction by L. March Pbillipps. 118 
B-hys's New Book of Sense and Nonsense. 813 
Rousseau's Smile. Translated by Barbara Foxtey. 518 

(See also PHILOSOPHY AND THEOLOGY) 
Ruskin's Crown of Wild Olive and Cestus of Aglaia. 323 
Elements of Drawing and Perspective. 217 
Ethics of the Dust. Introduction by Grace Rhys. 282 
Modern Painters. 5 vols. Introduction by Lionel Cost. 20812 
, Pre-Raphaelitism. Lectures on Architecture and Painting, 
Academy Notes, 1855-9, and Notes on the Turner Gallery. 
Introduction by Laurence Binyon. 218 
Sesame and Lilies, The Two Paths, and The King of the Goldezs 

River. Introduction by Sir Oliver Lodge. 219 
Seven Lamps of Architecture. Intro, by Selwyn Image. 207 
B> Stones of Venice. 3 vols. Intro, by L. March Pbillipps. 213-15 
w Time and Tide with other Essays. 450 

Unto This Last, The Political Economy of Art. 216 
(See also Fos YOUNG PEOPLE) 

Spectator, The. 4 vols. Introduction by G. Gregory Smith. 1647 
Spencer's (Herbert) Essays on Education. Intro, by C. W. Eliot. 504 
Sterne's Sentimental Journey and Journal and Letters to Eliza, Intro- 
duction by George Saintsbury. 796 

(See also Ficnoisr) 

Stevenson's In the South Seas and Island Nights' Entertainments. 769 
., Virginibus Puerlsque and Familiar Studies of Men and 

Books. 765 

(See also FICTION, POETRY, and TRAVEL) 
Swift's Tale of a Tub, The Battle of the Books, etc. 347 

(See also BIOGRAPHY and FICTION) 

Swinnerton's (Frank) The Georgian Literary Scene. 843 
Table Talk. Edited by J. C. Thornton. 906 

Taylor's (Isaac) Words and Places, or Etymological Illustrations ol 
History, Ethnology, and Geography. Intro, by Edward Thomas. 517 
Thackeray's (W. M.) The English Humorists and The Four Georges. 
Introduction by Waiter Jerrold. 610 

(See also FICTION) 

Tfaoreau's Wai den. Introduction by Walter Raymond. 281 
Trench's On the Study of Words and English Past and Present. Intro- 
duction by George Sampson. 788 
Tytier's Essay on the Principles of Translation. 168 
Walton's Compleat Angler. Introduction by Andrew Lang. 70 

4 



BVKRYMAN'S LIBRARY CLASSIFIED LIST 

FICTION 

AJmard's The Indian Scout. 4=28 

Ainsworth's (Harrison) Old St. Paul's. Intro, by W. EL A. Ason. 522 

The Admirable Crichton. Intro, by B.Rhys. 804 
The Tower of London. 400 

Windsor Castle. 709 

B-ookwood. Intro, by Frank Swinnerton. 870 

A-meiican Short Stories of the 19th Century. Edited by John Cournos. 840 
Austen's (Jane) Emma. Introduction by R. B. Johnson, 24 

Mansfield Park. Introduction by JR. B. Jo